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Legal Cases Sometimes Cited by School Officials

People v. Turner (1953) 121 Cal.App.2d Supp. 861:

The Turner case reached the appellate level of the Los Angeles Municipal Court. The court mistakenly thought that the state had a responsibility to supervise private schools. The court reasoned that the Legislature intended to distinguish between private schools and home instruction by a tutor, and that the Legislature must have had parents in mind when they established the tutorial exemption, therefore only the tutorial exemption had to be used to homechool legally. Besides, it concluded, that it was too burdensome for the state to have to supervise a whole bunch of small private schools. The reasoning is flawed.

The Legislature did not create the tutorial exemption for parents who wanted to instruct their children at home; they created it for tutors who teach other people's children for money. It is a moot point anyway, because in 1967 the Legislature remedied the problem of the proliferation of private schools by developing a tool for the state to track private schools without interfering with them. That tool is the private school affidavit (psa). The creation of the private school affidavit AFTER the Turner decisions eliminated the concern of the court, so Turner is no longer applicable on that point.


In re Shinn (1961) 195 Cal.App.2d 683:

This decision emanated from the State Court of Appeal. It did not challenge the legality of establishing a home as a private school. It looked at the Education Code and applied the private school laws to a homeschooling situation. The court assumed that private homeschooling was legal, and then proceeded to determine whether the Shinn family was meeting private school requirements spelled out in the law. They decided the Shinn family's chosen correspondence curriculum did not meet the required course of study.


Sherbert v. Verner (1963) 374 U.S. 398:

This United States Supreme Court case sets the standard by, which a state can exercise its compelling interest when a citizen's constitutionally protected right is in the balance. Both Turner and Shinn raise issues about the fundamental right of parents to direct the education of their children. Sherbert v. Verner established the "strict scrutiny-least restrictive means test" which basically means the state must see if a fundamental constitutional right is threatened (strict scrutiny) and, if so, the government must find the least restrictive means to achieve its interests. Private homeschooling meets the state's "compelling interest" in educating its citizens yet imposes the least restriction upon citizens.

For more in depth discussion of these issues, see The California Homeschool Guide.


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