Au Contraire On Homeschooling, Mr. Frank Valadez
Source: The Dispatch
June 6, 2005
Gilroy, CA -- I want to thank Mr. Frank Valadez, Gilroy Unified School District attendance officer, for his letter to the editor of May 27. It was very informative. I had no idea that a Star Chamber was operating at the district office. I shall certainly be modifying the advice I give to new and aspiring homeschool families as a result.
I agree with Mr. Valadez’s letter up to the first sentence of the fourth paragraph, which reads: “Complete the private school affidavit form on line by going to the California Department of Education Web site.”
From that point on, Mr. Valdez’s letter no longer deals with the requirements of the law. He outlines a series of hoops through which he wants homeschoolers to jump: call him, schedule an appointment, prove that one can provide an adequate education. None of these are required by law. He finishes with threats of SARB hearings and the District Attorney’s Office.
Nonetheless, I shall be modifying the discussion of legalities to neophyte homeschoolers. In prior years, I said: “You may, if you choose, join Home School Legal Defense Association. For a nominal fee, they will defend your right to homeschool should it be challenged. But - ” I used to say, “ - you don’t really need to join HSLDA in this county or in this school district. Santa Clara and GUSD are neutral toward homeschooling.”
In the future, I shall strongly recommend joining HSLDA before filing an R-4 or pulling one’s kid out of school. For further information on legalities, please visit www.hslda.org or www.californiahomeschool.net .
The shame of this situation is that Gilroy Unified has a real problem with truancy, and every hour Mr. Valadez spends harassing homeschoolers is an hour he is not chasing down truants. But it is probably a lot easier to intimidate nice, law-abiding, taxpaying citizens into jumping through silly hoops than to actually collar at-risk youth and force their negligent parents to abide by compulsory attendance laws.
Let me now draw a distinction. There are people called homeschoolers. The name applies equally to the parents who enjoy educating their own kids, at home, in their spare time, and to the children who are so educated.
Usually they begin homeschooling for academic reasons: they believe they can provide a better education for their two or six or nine children than a professional can for her 24 or 34. As time goes on, they accumulate more reasons: some academic, some social or religious, perhaps. In any event, they research their legal options and educate their children.
Then there are truants and the parents thereof. These children should be in school, both from a legal standpoint and from an ethical one, but the kids refuse and the parents neither force them nor educate them.
The third category consists of the people I call Refugees. These are the people who use the public schools, sometimes happily, sometimes with vague dissatisfaction, until meltdown happens. Perhaps the child is bullied, and despite the parents’ pleas, the staff fails to act. Perhaps the meltdown is merely academic: a child goes from getting A’s to D’s, or tests Barely Proficient on his STAR tests, calling into question his high GPA.
Refugees are those who never wanted to migrate to Homeschoolland, but to save their child, they leave the known shores of the Kingdom of Public School. Most Refugees research legalities and comply, but some are unintentionally truant.
Gilroy Unified should fix the problems in its Kingdom of Public School, so that fewer of its subjects feel compelled to become Refugees.
A curious side note to this whole fracas is the fact that I have homeschooled in this district, for two years in an ISP, then for 13 by filing an R-4, without ever having to crawl on my belly to any attendance supervisor to beg for permission to homeschool. The attendance law certainly has not altered one whit in that interval. Why does Mr. Valadez suddenly imagine that he needs to grant permission to R-4 filers?
HSLDA rarely assists non-members. But if anyone in Gilroy has been refused “permission” to homeschool by Mr. Valadez, try contacting the Legal Rights Team at email@example.com or 800-327-5339.