Hundreds of homeschool supporters rallied Monday (March 19) on the Capitol steps in Sacramento, protesting a bill that would allow fire inspectors into their homes.

Assemblyman Jose Medina (D-Riverside)

“I have reached out to many groups and stakeholders with diverse thoughts on this issue and am making changes to AB 2756.”—Assemblyman Jose Medina (D-Riverside)

It appears their efforts have led to some of the changes they sought.

Assemblyman Jose Medina (D-Riverside) is modifying a bill that angered the homeschool community.

Medina introduced the law in February in reaction to a highly publicized case of alleged child abuse in Riverside County, the area he represents. Police arrested the parents of the Turpin family, who homeschooled their children.

“I have reached out to many groups and stakeholders with diverse thoughts on this issue and am making changes to AB 2756 based on some of the feedback I received. I believe that an open and transparent conversation is always of the highest importance,” Medina told GV Wire.

Medina is dropping one of the most controversial parts of the bill: Homes used for homeschooling would be subject to fire inspections by the local fire marshal.

Parent Rights

Stefanie Fetzer founded Parents United 4 Kids in 2016, as a Facebook group. The motivation was to defeat a bill that year, SB 18 “Bill of Rights for the Children and Youth in California.” The group succeeded.

The group formed a PAC. “Our plan is to support candidates who support parents’ rights,” Fetzer said.

AB 2756 motivated Fetzer again to organize the rally on the first day the bill could be heard by a committee (it is currently not scheduled for a hearing).

“For some reason, the Democratic Party in California has lost the idea of being for choice and for liberty.”Parents United 4 Kids founder Stefanie Fetzer

“Parents rights is not a partisan issue,” Fetzer said.

For Monday’s rally, she invited Democratic legislators to speak. She said none responded to the invitation.

“For some reason, the Democratic Party in California has lost the idea of being for choice and for liberty,” Fetzer said.

Monday Protest

Parents and children gathered on the west steps of the Capitol. It capped off a day of lobbying for change, if not outright defeat, of the bill. Organizers estimated 400 attended from throughout the state.

Crowd size mattered to Fetzer.

“We felt we needed to come out strong from the beginning. This bill is a bad idea,” she said.

State Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego County) told the crowd they need to continue to fight for their children.

“Your kids are worth it. Don’t get angry with (legislators), try to explain to them why it’s so important. Make sure they understand who committed you are. The best thing to happen is not just to defeat bad bills, but to encourage homeschooling.”

Sen. Scott Wilk (R-Antelope Valley), also spoke. He is the vice chair of the Senate Education Committee, which would hear the bill if it gets that far.

Opponents of AB 2756 gather in the office of the bill’s author, Assemblyman Jose Medina (photo courtesy of Jessica Vanhille-Hart)

“The people who sit in the seats with me believe they can raise your children better than you can raise them,” Wilk said to a chorus of boos.

Many parents and political hopefuls also addressed the crowd. Other elected leaders speaking included Sen. Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga), and candidate for governor Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach)

“It was awesome. It was a great turnout,” said Jessica Vanhille-Hart, a Modesto homeschool mom of two boys.

She says it is important to keep on the pressure.

“We’re not going away. We are going to keep showing up. We are not going to let this go,” Vanhille-Hart said. “We have the right to raise our kids the way we see fit.”

She was one of a group of parents who crammed into Medina’s office on Monday, to let his staff know how they felt.

“I appreciate that parents rallied at the Capitol today to vocalize their opinions on AB 2756. Educational oversight is an important topic that is rightly met with diverse thoughts and perspectives,” Medina said.

Inspections Out

Medina’s AB 2756 initially required homeschool homes to be inspected yearly by a local fire inspector.

Groups like the Home School Legal Defense Association and the HomeSchool Association of California felt such an intrusion violated the Fourth Amendment, which requires a warrant for such searches.

“The stigma that homeschoolers are more likely to abuse or neglect their children because they don’t have to interact with the state in a personal way is offensive to segment of our society that are really performing a valuable service – providing responsible, respectful, productive, well-educated adult with over 70% attending college,” said Mike Smith, president of HSLDA.

Vanhille-Hart agreed.

“There is no need for them to visit our home and invade our privacy,” she said.

Data Collection Remains

But, another aspect that homeschool advocates object to remains — the collection of certain data.

In California, home schools are considered private schools. Families must submit a yearly affidavit to the state which contains the name of the school, address and enrollment figures.

The law also requires the school, whether traditional or homeschool, to maintain records of what courses are offered, list of faculty and their criminal records.

Medina’s bill would also require school administrators to list the nature of their school: conventional or traditional private schools; private school satellite programs; private online or virtual schools; parents, guardians, or other individuals who operate a private home school; and certified nonpublic nonsectarian schools.

That doesn’t fly with HSLDA’s Smith.

“There is no justification to collect data to try and formulate legislation going forward,” he said. “Homeschoolers have homeschooled under the private school exemption for 35 years and there is no reason to change.”

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4 Responses

  1. Pam Ragland

    This data is already collected!! Just because CDE does not publish for small homeschools (which the Turpins were not, anyway.. that was abuse, not homeschool) — does not mean they don’t have the data. All private homeschools are required to register, and CDE already knows who they are.

    This is a frivolous and unnecessary bill, to help some politician grandstand and claim he did something. He did NOTHING.

    Reply
  2. RS

    Thank you for the news article, David.

    Thank you to all the parents and families that showed up to lobby against this misguided bill.

    Thanks also to the Republican legislators who are helping beat back this invasion of basic rights. We must continue the fight and turn back the tide of government overreach.

    Reply
  3. Bobo Smithson

    Data collection on the children of those who do not choose government/public schools is unnecessary and intrusive. Homeschooling – like Catholic schooling, atheist secular private schooling, and Muslim schooling – is not funded by taxes (the peoples’ money) and therefore should not be accountable to the government/state.
    Public/government school children must be tracked, tabulated, and data-fied because their education is funded by tax dollars. You choose to buy your own lettuce, the government does not need to know about it. You choose to use food stamps, the government needs to know about it. It is simple. Yes, what happened to liberals/progressives being in favor of choice? Apparently they do not like it if it involves the teaching of children.
    Medina’s intrusive and government-control bill should be totally dropped.

    Reply
  4. Bobo Smithson

    This government-control Medina should read this new research study. There is not even a correlation between the amount of state control of homeschooling and how much abuse happens in homeschooling https://www.nheri.org/2018/03/15/degree-of-homeschool-regulation-no-relationship-to-homsechool-child-abuse/ Furthermore, public school children are abused by mandatory-reporter public school personnel at horrid rates even though the state has all kinds of data on both the students and the school teachers, coaches, and administrators. See US Department of Justice statistics on this.

    Reply

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