The step-by-step instructions included here were updated September 30, 2010.
An excerpt from An Introduction to Home Education
Because the procedure for filing the annual Private School Affidavit (PSA) may change after the publication date for this manual, please check the CHEA website just prior to filing to see if there are any updates.
What Filing the Affidavit Does
The Education Code requires private schools to file an affidavit each year, but it is important to understand that filing the form does not create a school. If that seems confusing, think of it like you would think of your car: renewing your car’s registration each year does not make it a car. Even registering a brand new car for the first time does not make it a car. Registering is simply a legal requirement with which owners of cars must comply. In the same way, filing the affidavit is simply a registration requirement for schools; it has nothing to do with creating a private school.
Additionally, filing the affidavit does not mean any official recognition or approval is given to your school by the government; nor does it mean your school is accredited. Filing the affidavit simply means your school has complied with E.C. § 33190, which requires the annual filing.
THE CDE'S “FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS”
The CDE website includes a section of “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ). Their information on homeschooling changes every year or so. The current information is generally not as scary or intimidating as it used to be, but there are still some troubling sections. For example, one question and answer suggest it’s a good idea to call your local school district and announce that you plan to homeschool. Don’t do that. It’s not required and is more likely to raise questions and create problems than to help. Another question and answer indicate that the local attendance supervisor can have a look at your records any time he or she wants. That’s not accurate either. The authority is limited to verifying that the affidavit is filed. Unless someone has a court order or warrant, you don’t need to show your records. If someone ever insists that you show your records, call HSLDA.
Where to Go for Help
Do not call public school officials for information on private home education nor on filing a private school affidavit (PSA). Because the public school officials of necessity specialize in public schools, they typically do not understand the law as it relates to private education. Confusing or inaccurate information has been given to private home educators who have contacted the California Department of Education, County Board of Education, or local public school officials. Instead, if you have questions after reading the information here and checking the CHEA website for updates, if you are a member of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) contact their office for answers to legal questions. If you are not a member of HSLDA, it’s recommended that you join.
Who Should File a PSA?Only private schools file PSAs. And only one PSA is filed for each school. So if you’re running your own private school in order to homeschool your children, you should file.
Additionally, only children between ages six and 18 are required to attend school. So only file if you have students between those ages. If your oldest child is four or five and you’re teaching kindergarten or prekindergarten, you don’t need to file yet—not unless your oldest child will be turning six before December 1.
If you are joining a PSP do not file your own affidavit. You are enrolling your children in an existing private school, and the administrator should file the affidavit each year.
If you are homeschooling under the tutorial exemption because you are a credentialed teacher or have hired one, you do not need to file a PSA. However, many who are qualified to use the tutorial exemption choose to establish a private school in their home and use that exemption instead because the hours and days requirements are more flexible for private schools than for tutors. So you are free to make the choice of which exemption to use if you are qualified for both. If you choose to operate as a tutor, don’t file; if you choose to operate as a private school, then do file.
When to File the PSA
California Education Code (E.C.) Section 33190 requires that every private school file a private school affidavit with the Superintendent of Public Instruction at the California Department of Education between October 1 and 15 of each year. If you are setting up your school after October 15, the general rule is to wait until the following fall to file. However, there are exceptions. New schools which have students needing a work permit are often told they must have an affidavit on file before the forms will be issued to them. Other government contacts sometimes result in an official checking to see if an affidavit is on file and requiring that before proceeding with some official action. In these cases, you may need to file the affidavit even though it’s past October 15. If you are think you may fit one of these exceptions, check with HSLDA for counsel before you file.
How to File the PSA
Before you can fill out the PSA form, you will have to choose a name for your school and designate at least one administrator, who may also be the teacher. In homeschools, it’s common for the father to be the principal and teacher, and for the mother to be the administrator and teacher.
The PSA is available online at the California Department of Education (CDE) website:www.cde.ca.gov/sp/ps/rq.
Only information required by E. C. 33190 must be included on the affidavit. However, the computerized online affidavit form has been programmed by the CDE to ask for some additional information. When filing online, we recommend that you provide only the asterisked information, which is what is necessary to file your affidavit online.
Because the PSA form requests non-required information, some private schools chose to file their affidavit by sending a letter Chapter Two: Establishing a Private School 87 rather than using the CDE form. The CDE calls this filing an affidavit by a “Letter in Lieu” of the application form.
We recommend that if you are setting up your school for the first time, or if you are new to the online filing system, you purchase CHEA's An Introduction to Home Education and read the entire chapter on the PSA before filing. The manual includes complete details including "File or Not File" and "Letter in Lieu." If you have any questions or difficulties, please don’t hesitate to contact our office: (562) 864-2432 orCHEAinfo@cheaofca.org
Thank you to Family Protection Ministries and HSLDA for their help on this subject.