Oppose Assembly Bill AB 2756 – Mandatory Inspections of Homeschooler’s Homes

Joint Legislative Action Alert

We need your help opposing the “Fire Inspection” bill which threatens private homeschooling.


March 15, 2018

From: Roy Hanson – Family Protection Ministries, and Mike Smith – HSLDA

Bill: AB 2756 (as introduced) – Mandatory Annual Fire Inspections of Private Homeschoolers’ Residences.

Author: State Assembly Members Medina, Eggman, and Gonzalez Fletcher

Co-author: Assembly Member Rodriguez

Status: In Assembly Education Committee, no hearing date set.

Our Position: STRONGLY OPPOSE

Summary of Concerns

For the first time in California history, a governmental agency will be given the raw power to enter a residence without a warrant or reasonable cause. The residences specified for this search will be the homes of every private homeschool* family who has filed a private school affidavit that indicates five or less students. The fire department will conduct the search, and according to the authors of the bill, they will be looking inside the home to ensure that the children who live there are safe. The author has declared his personal belief that “the state has a responsibility to ensure that each child is in a safe learning environment. [He further declared that] AB 2756 will provide the oversight needed to protect students and their rights.” Even though the author makes this far-reaching statement, it does not make this claim true.
 
This legislation is prompted by the reports of severe abuse and neglect in a family in Perris, California, who had filed a private school affidavit. The authors have concluded that this legislation would have prevented the alleged abuse of the children and will prevent future abuse and neglect in private homeschool families’ homes.
 

*The term “private homeschool” is meant to include only families that file a private school affidavit as distinguished from families who are enrolled in programs that are administered and funded by the public school system. 

Outline of Information included in this Action Alert:

  • Summary of Concerns
  • Action Items
  • Oppositions Points to Share with Legislators
  • Background

Action Items

1) WRITE THE MEMBER OF THE CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY WHO REPRESENTS YOUR DISTRICT. Click here to find your Assembly member: http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov.

  • TELL THEM: “Please vote no on AB 2756 (by Medina). I (or we) oppose mandatory fire inspections targeting the homes of private homeschool families.”
  • Please use one or more of the “Opposition Points to Share with Legislators” listed below when you write.

2) SEND A COPY OF YOUR LETTER TO THE ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION.

Committee on Education
California State Assembly
Legislative Office Building
1020 N Street, Room 159

Sacramento, CA 95814

For more information about the committee please visit: http://aedn.assembly.ca.gov/membersstaff.

3) EMAIL THE THREE AUTHORS AND CO-AUTHOR OF THE BILL asking them to withdraw the bill using one or more of the opposition points listed below. 

Authors:
Co-Author:

4) PLEASE SHARE THIS EMAIL WITH OTHERS. Spread the word to those who support private homeschooling.


Opposition Points to Share with Legislators

1. There is no credible evidence that privately homeschooled children are more susceptible to abuse than other children. 

2. Private home-based education could be eliminated because of the building code regulatory power of the Fire Marshall. These fire inspections have the distinct possibility of eradicating home-based private schooling for a majority of families because of potential mandated changes (such as enforcing the same building codes as traditional “brick and mortar” public schools which require sprinkler systems, 4-foot wide doors, etc.), which could be impossible to make and/or afford. Mandating these changes discriminates against private homeschoolers who are already financially strapped or who may be forced to sell their home and then find a new home or who live in rental homes and don’t have the authority to change the structure. In addition to basic family expenses, these privately homeschooling families freely purchase the education materials for their children without government help. This bill would add yet another expense that could make it financially impossible to continue to privately homeschool, thus discriminating especially against the poor and minorities. 

3. Those voting for this bill would be signing a “blank check” because the regulations (that this bill requires to be written after the bill passes and is signed by the Governor) are completely unknown in nature or extent. 

4. This bill directly violates the 4th Amendment to the Constitution. All citizens’ homes, including private homeschoolers’ homes, are protected by the Fourth Amendment from unlawful entry by state officials. Without a warrant or emergency circumstances, state officials cannot lawfully enter a home without the parent’s consent. Such entry is presumed to be unlawful in all 50 states including California. Therefore, AB 2756 is unconstitutional on its face. For more information on this issue, check out HSLDA’s Article: “The Unconstitutionality of Home Visits” for a detailed legal analysis:https://hslda.org/docs/nche/000000/00000072.asp 

5. This bill is prejudicial against all private homeschoolers. Homeschool families will be punished for simply choosing the home-based private school option. This profiles homeschoolers for this punishment even when no crime has been committed. To single out private homeschool families for this gross invasion of privacy is unconstitutional. Private homeschoolers deserve the same protections under the Constitution as anyone else. 

6. The fundamental principle that individuals are innocent until proven guilty is disregarded. This bill creates a great injustice by assuming that privately homeschooling parents are more likely to commit child abuse because of this case in Perris, CA. It violates a hallmark of American justice, that one is innocent until proven otherwise. 

7. With over 20,000 home-based private schools every year in California (schools with 5 or fewer students), it would cost the state and/or local government a considerable amount of time and money to comply, taking away resources from other fire department obligations such as fighting fires. We need to ensure that our firefighters have the resources they need to fulfill their critical and already overwhelming obligations.


Background

AB 2756 is an attempt to satisfy the huge media response surrounding the accusations of severe abuse of 13 children by their parents (in Perris, CA) who had filed a private school affidavit. The horrible allegations shook us all. But almost immediately, the media’s focus turned to private homeschooling, and this became the perceived cause for this tragedy in the eyes of many. The conclusion was that because privately homeschooled children don’t attend public school and can be isolated from the general public, private homeschoolers need to be regulated so that this never happens again. Private homeschooling became the focus rather than better prevention of child abuse and neglect. 

Therefore, to solve this purported private homeschool problem, the authors of the bill have decided that state officials should have access to homes of private homeschoolers to make sure the children are safe. In this bill, the authors have used the affidavit-filing requirement for all private schools as the vehicle to accomplish their purpose. As you know, private homeschooling in California is legally conducted through the private school exemption in the Education Code. One of the requirements to satisfy the compulsory education requirement for private schools is to annually file a private school affidavit. This affidavit is filed and maintained by the California Department of Education.

This bill will require the Superintendent of the California Department of Education to prepare a list of the affidavit-filing schools with five or fewer pupils and provide the list directly to the State Fire Marshal or appropriate local authority. Your name and the address of your home will be on the list and an annual inspection will be conducted of your home every year, determining whether the minimum requirements for the prevention of fire and the protection of life and property against fire and panic are being met. 

The inspections mandated by AB 2756 would be a clear violation of our right to privacy that is protected by the 4th amendment to the US Constitution. Our founders fought dearly to protect this right and it is an essential pillar upon which our nation was founded. We must all join together to defend these Constitutional freedoms.


This current battle to protect homeschool freedoms has stretched our already-tight funding very thin. Please consider donating financially and pray that we would remain strong throughout this legislative session. Without your support, we would not be able to advocate on your behalf on bills like AB 2756.


Roy Hanson and Nathan Pierce
Family Protection Ministries
PO Box 730
Lincoln, CA 95648

 

Permission given to share this Action Alert unaltered to your friends, church, school, and group.