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(May 2010)

Most homeschoolers would be caught by surprise if they had just admitted their child to the hospital and then were approached by someone with a school enrollment form. Yet this is essentially what happened to one family earlier this year when they had to admit their homeschooled son into Children’s Hospital in San Diego and stumbled on what appears to be a new kind of trial public school program in that city.

A volunteer from the hospital came into the boy’s hospital room and spoke to this mother to invite her young son to the “school room” where he could play on the computers and then get a pass to go to the “play room.” In the “school room” a teacher from the local school district asked his mother if she would sign a form enrolling her son in the San Diego Unified School District.

As it turns out, school-age children cannot go to the “play room” in this hospital during the morning hours unless they first go to the “school room.” The hospital’s aids and nurses, of course, encourage children to use that facility because it’s fun. At first, this mother thought that the “school room” was just another room in the hospital, like a “play room” or the cafeteria. But, when she was given a form to enroll her son, she found out that this “school room” program was a part of the local public school district.

This boy’s mother wisely declined, saying that she homeschooled her son. Happily, the volunteer, who in this case did not happen to be pushy about the boy enrolling in the public school program, left them alone.

This incident brings to light a few things all of us should keep in mind:

As private homeschoolers, from the perspective of the law (i.e. the California Education Code), your children are enrolled in a private school. “Homeschool” is simply a colloquial term used to describe how and where we provide our children’s education.

It is generally best to say your child is enrolled in a private school. If someone brings up “homeschooling,” it is fine to mention or acknowledge that your child’s private school instruction is home-based. “Dual enrollment” is not permitted in California. In other words, all students comply with California’s compulsory education laws through only one of three basic legal provisions: (1) We enroll our children in a public school program; (2) We enroll our children in a private school program; or (3) We use a tutor who has an appropriate teaching credential.

Never sign a paper that you have not read. When in doubt, don’t sign. It can be very difficult to “un-sign” a legal document. In a doctor’s office or hospital, you could be signing up for a home visitation program, or something worse.

Never sign up for a public school program without first talking with HSLDA.

This attempt to enroll a child in a public school program in a hospital is something we had not heard of until Laura Wojnicki of Christian Family Schools in San Diego passed it on to us. We are very grateful to have incidents like this brought to our attention. You are our eyes and ears when it comes to experiencing what is happening around the State that is of importance to parents and especially homeschooling parents. Please contact HSLDA, and let us at FPM know too, if you come across anything you have never seen or read about from either of our organizations that could affect homeschoolers.

“Like an eagle that stirs up his nest, that hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions. The Lord alone guided him, and there was no foreign god with him.” Deuteronomy 32:11-12