KCEA Position on Church School Homeschooling

by Rev. Theodore E. Claytor

[This article first appeared in Issue 58 (spring 1997) of the PENNSYLVANIA HOMESCHOOLERS® newsletter.]

[Editor's Note: The following is the text of a letter that I received on February 7 from the executive director of the Keystone Christian Education Association, the main organization of Christian schools in PA. He was responding to an article I (Howard) wrote for the last issue of this newsletter. In that article I described how a few homeschoolers in PA were enrolling their children in the homeschool program of a church school instead of filing a home education program affidavit in order to comply with the compulsory education law in PA.]

You have asked me to write you regarding our Association's position on your article entitled "Homeschooling Under Private School Umbrella." Your request comes following my call to you in December when I first noticed your article.

In brief, our Association has a long standing position quite opposite both of the major proposals in your article: (1) We find no assurance in Pennsylvania law for one to encourage a home educating family with children of compulsory school age to report to a private school instead of reporting to the Superintendent of the District of residence. (2) Nor do we find assurance in Pennsylvania law for one to encourage a church to claim that it has a day school when it operates a ministry to homeschooling families. Both proposals are fraught with dangers.

Upon what do we base our long-standing position? Certainly we have read and studied it for ourselves. We have also relied heavily upon the legal work of Ball, Skelly, Murren & Connell, the Harrisburg-based law firm with undeniably national credentials in Pennsylvania law and education liberty cases. That law firm has concluded that the PA statutes governing religious schools and home education programs clearly specify that the two are separate and distinct under the law, and that any program of home education may not qualify as a non-public school.

However, additionally, you and I, Howard, have been around long enough to be personal witnesses to the legislative battles for the Religious School Bill of 1986 and the Home Education Bill of 1988. When we were battling for freedom in the Legislature, it was very clear that we did not intend for the two proposals in your article to be lawful. Dozens of pastors and parents clearly articulated this position when arguing for and lobbying for these important laws.

Please be careful to understand that our long-standing position is not in opposition to the legislatively approved home education option. I hope that this material is of benefit to you.

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