Rehearing in Homeschooling Case

Posted on Jul 1 2008 in General by Anne Miller

[From HSC (Homeschool Association of California); www.hsc.org]

Rehearing in Homeschooling Case

On Monday, June 23, the Court of Appeal in Los Angeles held oral arguments for the rehearing in the In re Rachel L homeschooling/abuse case in California. I flew down for it along with HSC’s lawyers from Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati. Elizabeth Bryant, HSC’s legal co-chair, did all the driving in crazy LA traffic, and Leslie Buchanan, HSC’s president, came to listen. Karen Taylor of CHN was there, as was CHN’s counsel (who’s really an HSC legal volunteer, Jerry Salcido). CHEA’s representative couldn’t come, but their counsel was there. HSLDA came as did the man who worked with me on the brief about the history and efficacy of homeschooling that was filed on behalf of several schools, advocacy groups and businesses such as AtoZHomescool and Diane Flynn Keith. There was a reporter there from the LA Times, but very few people who looked like regular members of the public (security was VERY tight). The court did not permit any TV cameras to show up.

The arguments were long (two and a half hours in a hot courtroom) and thorough. The judges asked lots of questions, with some consistent themes. As soon as you thought you had one judge pegged as to how he or she was thinking, he or she would ask another question that made you wonder about your prior conclusion. They were reasonably generous about letting people finish their presentations or points even if they ran over a little on time.

Some of the attorneys presenting made wonderful arguments that we loved. Others were potentially damaging. Most of the folks on our side did a really good job. One woman from Munger Tolles, who represented CHEA in our joint brief, made a presentation on behalf of all three groups and did very well.

It is absolutely impossible to predict how the court will rule on this — whether it will be narrow, sweeping, or something entirely different, and we don’t want to feed any rumor mill. It’s just too hard to read those tea leaves, although I am sure some people will try.

They have 90 days to do something, which means we should expect a ruling by late September. All three of the big groups will, of course, coordinate to make sure we give consistent advice about how to homeschool come fall, and will work together after the ruling comes out should any change in advice be necessary. If the ruling goes against us, our pro bono firms have assured us that they’re in it for the long haul and will be with us every step of the way.

As before, we encourage everyone to keep on doing what they’ve been doing, to keep showing the world a positive image of homeschooling, to educate their friends and neighbors about homeschooling, and to stay informed.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to write me.


Debbie Schwarzer
HSC Legal Co-Chair
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