Homeschool and Work Permits (page 3)
Anyone younger than 18 who has not graduated from high school is required by California laws to obtain a work permit upon employment. These laws are very poorly enforced, and your kid may get a job and find that his employer does not ask him to get a work permit. On the other hand, it may be necessary to get one.
If you're part of a public school program, the school or program will provide work permits.
If you're participating in a private ISP, the school or program may have received permission from the public school district in which it operates to issue work permits.
If you've filed an R-4, you can do on your own anything any other school can do—except issue work permits. The California Education Code (Sections 49110 and 49110.1) gives the primary responsibility for the issuance of work permits to the superintendents of public school districts or, in some cases, to county superintendents. When a student in a private school needs a work permit, she must get it from the public school district in which she lives (usually from a work experience coordinator who has been designated by the superintendent) or from her private school if the public school superintendent has authorized the private school to issue work permits. I have a copy of a letter from Jose Millan, Assistant State Labor Commissioner, in which he writes, "The law does not require that the minor be a pupil registered with the local district or even that the minor be living with a parent who is a resident of that district. The minor merely has to be living within the boundaries of any school district (even if only for a vacation), and the superintendent is authorized to issue the required work permit."
If you want to read the law yourself, you can find it at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html. Mark "Education Code," scroll down, and click "Search" without entering any other information. After the entire Code has downloaded, scroll down and click the appropriate section numbers to get Sections 49110 and 49110.1. You can also read the law at a public law library somewhere in your county, probably at the county seat and possibly elsewhere; a librarian at your local public library can tell you where it is.
When you request a work permit from a school district, you'll be expected to provide some basic information about the schooling situation of the person who's applying for the permit. It may be enough to write a note on letterhead paper that reads, "John Doe is a full-time student in good standing at Sunshine High School. He has found a job and needs a work permit. We are requesting that you issue one for him." The work permit may be issued without any problem.
If there is a problem, it may result simply from school officials not knowing the full scope of their responsibility. Show them the excerpt from the letter from Mr. Millan and/or the Education Code sections cited above. If they still balk, contact the Labor Commissioner's office in a major city for a confirmation of what the law says. Locations are listed at http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/DistrictOffices.htm; the San Francisco office is at (415) 703-5300.
Unfortunately, if the school district people are opposed to your way of schooling rather than simply unaware of what the law says, they may refuse to give you a work permit. (The laws consistently say that work permits "may" be issued.) Short of hiring an attorney, you can only hope that being persistent and applying whatever pressure you can will help. You can contact me to ask for HSC support.
Just so you know all the facts around this issue: Sections 1391 and 1391.1 of the California Labor Code establish a number of restrictions that govern work performed by people under 18; these restrictions have mostly to do with hours of work. Section 1391.2(a) then says that these restrictions do not apply to anyone with a diploma or a CHSPE Certificate. In November of 1997 I called the state Labor Commissioner's office in San Francisco and asked if this means that there are no restrictions on the work that minors with a high school diploma may perform, and the answer was, "Yes."
Sections 49100-49183 of the Education Code comprise a chapter titled "Employment of Minors"; regulations regarding work permits are included in this chapter. Section 49101 states that the provisions of the chapter do not apply to anyone with a high school diploma or a CHSPE Certificate. Minors who have graduated from high school do not need work permits.
You can look these laws up in the way described above.
In the worst case, you may find that it's impossible to obtain a work permit, and you may also feel that it's not yet time for your child to finish "high school." One way around this is to issue a diploma and simply go ahead with whatever you've planned and list it on a transcript as post-graduate high school work. A number of schools around the country do in fact offer post-graduate high school work. I've only used this approach once, but the student involved has been accepted into two colleges—the only two she applied to—on the basis of a transcript showing high school work done both before and after graduation. It sounds weird, but it can be entirely workable for a kid to graduate now and finish "high school" later.
Another solution in this worst case is for your child to earn a CHSPE Certificate now and a diploma from your homeschool later. The CHSPE Certificate will allow her to easily obtain a work permit (and may have other advantages also), but a high school student otherwise. You can award a diploma whenever the timing is right. California Department of Education policy allows the public schools to enroll students who are technically graduates through the CHSPE; there's nothing preventing you from doing this, too.
If you do decide to issue a diploma or go after a CHSPE Certificate, make sure that doing so will not seriously complicate any plans your kid may have for applying to colleges and universities.
Reprinted with the permission of the HomeSchool Association of California. © 2007–2008 by HomeSchool Association of California. All rights reserved.
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