TN 14 (08-12)

PR 07905.006 California

A. PR 16-008 OPINION – Fresno Adult School GED Program is an Educational Institution under California State Law

DATE: November 13, 2015

1. Syllabus

California recognizes Fresno Adult School (FAS) as a public school in the Fresno Unified School District. FAS’ General Education Development program provides secondary-level education under California law and FAS is, therefore, an educational institution. 

2. Opinion

QUESTION

You asked whether California law recognizes the General Educational Development (GED) program at Fresno Adult School as an educational institution for purposes of determining E~’s entitlement to student benefits.

SHORT ANSWER

Yes. The GED program at Fresno Adult School qualifies as an educational institution under California law.

BACKGROUND

E~, a recipient of child’s insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, has been attending the GED program at Fresno Adult School (FAS) from April XX, 2015 to present. On Form SSA-1372-BK, E~ indicated that he attends school for 30 hours each week. A school official (counselor) certified, under penalty of perjury, that E~ correctly reported his school attendance, and that his program would last at least 13 weeks.

The State of California recognizes FAS as a California public school within the Fresno Unified School District. See Cal. Sch. Directory, Cal. Dep’t. of Educ., http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/sd/details.asp?cds=10621661032309&public=Y (last visited Oct. 5, 2015); see also Other Schs., Fresno Unified Sch. Dist., http://www.fresnounified.org/schools/Pages/other.aspx (FAS listed as Cesar Chavez Adult School) (last visited Oct. 5, 2015). FAS offers various programs for adult and community education, including English as a Second Language (ESL), Adult Basic Education (ABE) and independent study programs. See Home, Fresno Adult Sch., http://www.fas.edu/ (last visited Oct. 5, 2015).

Specifically, FAS offers GED preparation classes for those who do not have a high school diploma and are interested in acquiring a California High School Equivalency Certificate. See ABE/GED, Fresno Adult Sch., http://www.fas.edu/ (last visited Oct. 5, 2015). The GED preparation classes prepare students to take and pass the five subject areas required for the GED examination (writing skills, social studies, science, reading and mathematics). Id. Furthermore, FAS is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. See About Us, Fresno Adult Sch., http://www.fas.edu/ (last visited Oct. 5, 2015); see also Directory of Schools, Western Assoc. of Schools and Colleges, http://directory.acswasc.org/ (last visited Oct. 5, 2015).

DISCUSSION

Federal Law

To be eligible for child’s insurance benefits between the ages of 18 and 19, the child must be in full-time attendance (FTA) at an educational institution (EI). Social Security Act § 202(d)(1)(B) & (7)(D), 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1)(B) & (7)(D); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367; Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001.A. An EI is a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which it is located. Social Security Act § 202(d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.200.A. With limited exceptions, the agency defines FTA as attendance of at least 20 hours per week for 13 weeks; a student must meet both federal and state attendance requirements.1 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b)-(c); POMS RS 00205.300.

Under POMS RS 00205.340.A, the agency considers an individual in a GED program a student if: (a) the school providing the GED program is an EI; and (b) the student is in FTA. Further, regardless of the type of school, the school providing the GED program is an EI, if the GED program is an approved elementary or secondary-level program under the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which it is located. POMS RS 00205.340.B.

California Law

Because FAS is located in California, we look to California law. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.200. In California, a “school” is defined to have the following: (1) one or more teachers to give instruction; (2) an assigned administrator; (3) based in one or more buildings; and (4) enrolled or prospectively enrolled students. Definition of a School, Cal. Dep’t of Educ., http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/si/ds/dos.asp (last visited Oct. 5, 2015). Further, a “public school” is “a school, a kindergarten through grade twelve and/or adult educational institution” that satisfies various requirements, such as: being supported with public funds; being authorized by and operated under the oversight of a local or state educational agency; providing educational services to all enrolled students; and having at least one appropriately credentialed administrator. Definition of a Public Sch., Cal. Dep’t of Educ., http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/si/ds/dos.asp (last visited Oct. 5, 2015).

The California Department of Education reviews information submitted by each school to determine whether the school meets the criteria for public school in order to receive public funds from the State. See E-mail from CDS Adm’r, CDS Admin., Cal. Dep’t of Educ., to Beatrice Na, Assistant Reg’l Counsel, Soc. Sec. Admin. (Oct. XX, 2015, 16:19 PST) (on file with OGC). Upon recognizing the school as a public school, the California Department of Education assigns a 14-digit CDS (County-District-School) code2 to the school. See id.; see also OPUS-CDS Frequently Asked Questions, Cal. Dep’t of Educ., http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/si/ds/opuscdsfaqs.asp (Questions No. 8 & 9) (last visited Oct. 9, 2015).

The California Department of Education website has an official school directory that enables searches for all schools in the state and shows each school’s status. See Cal. Sch. Directory, Cal. Dep’t of Educ., http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/sd/ (last visited Oct. 5, 2015). On that online directory, FAS is listed as “active” public school and has been assigned a CDS code. Sch: Fresno Adult, Cal. Sch. Directory, http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/sd/details.asp?cds=10621661032309&public=Y (last visited Oct. 5, 2015). Further, the downloadable Public Schools Data available on that directory provides the name and contact information of the administrator of FAS, and shows that the California Department of Education has reviewed the most current data of FAS for accuracy on January 12, 2015. See Public Schs. Database, Cal. Dep’t of Educ., http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/si/ds/pubschls.asp (last visited Oct. 5, 2015). Based on the available information, FAS meets California’s definitions for a school and public school.

While the California Department of Education does not specifically approve or disapprove programs offered by each school, see E-mail from CDS Adm’r, CDS Admin., Cal. Dep’t of Educ., to Beatrice Na, Assistant Reg’l Counsel, Soc. Sec. Admin. (Oct. XX, 2015, 16:19 PST), the GED program offered at FAS provides a student a high-school level education in order to prepare the student to obtain a high school equivalency certificate recognized by the State. See Cal. Educ. Code §§ 51420(b), 51425; 5 Cal. Code Regs. § 11530; seealso Gen. Educ. Dev. Test (GED), Cal. Dep’t Educ., http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/gd/gedtest.asp (last visited Oct. 5, 2015).

The agency generally may rely on the official school directory available on the California Department of Education website to determine if a public school offering GED program is an educational institution under POMS RS 00205.200 and RS 00205.340. The California Department of Education website indicates that FAS has active status, is an assignee of a CDS code, and is part of the Fresno Unified School District. Based on the foregoing and in the absence of evidence to the contrary, FAS is a qualified educational institution.

CONCLUSION

FAS, recognized by the state as a public school, and its GED program that provides a student a secondary-level education, qualifies as an educational institution under 20 C.F.R. § 404.367 and POMS RS 00205.200. Based on the information provided by E~ and FAS, the field office has determined that E~’s attendance at FAS satisfies the full-time attendance requirement. Assuming all other eligibility criteria are satisfied, E~ is entitled to Student Benefits.

Deborah Lee Stachel

Acting Regional Chief Counsel

San Francisco Region

B. PR 12-117 Pearblossom Private School, Inc.: Austin

DATE: July 13, 2012

1. SYLLABUS

Pearblossom Private School, Inc. (PPS) located in California, provides quality educational programs for the entire range of elementary, middle, and high school grades (K through 12). PPS meets the requirements of a private school under California law and qualifies as an educational institution (EI) for SSA purposes. PPS functions as a correspondence school rather that an online school.

Although correspondence courses generally may not be used to establish full-time attendance, they may be used for home schooling and for limited periods when regular school attendance is not possible. Additional information should be obtained to determine whether a student qualifies for full-time attendance and all other requirements for payment of benefits under these exceptions.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

Whether Pearblossom Private School, Inc., qualifies as an educational institution?

SHORT ANSWER

Yes. Pearblossom Private School, Inc., qualifies as an educational institution under federal law. However, because it functions as a correspondence school, rather than an online school, the agency should investigate further to determine whether the child may be considered home schooled under the applicable requirements, and thereby eligible for benefits under the home schooling provisions.3

BACKGROUND

Austin, a South Carolina resident, attends Pearblossom Private School, Inc. (PPS), which is located in California. He also attended PPS from October 18, 2010, to September 26, 2011. On Form SSA-1372-BK, Austin indicated that he expected to attend 25 hours per week this school year and attended school 20 hours each week last year. Rusty, Registrar at PPS, certified under penalty of perjury that Austin correctly reported his school attendance, and that his program would last at least 13 weeks.

In response to follow-up questions from the agency, Vicki (no last name or title) reported that PPS does not track the time that students spend online and does not provide online classes for their students. Instead, students independently read the material or book assigned for each class, and then take an end-of-chapter test online. PPS has no official instruction method and no interactive access to a teacher; the school only provides books and learning materials. Students select either a 9month or 12month program and then follow the “learning schedule” provided by the school by reading and taking the online tests at the pace directed by the learning schedule. A student may call and speak to someone for assistance with the tests, but that person is not a certified teacher. Information on the PPS website regarding the course of study generally corroborates the information provided by Vicki. The website also indicates the subject areas and number of courses in each area required for http://www.pearblossomschool.com/graduation. See Pearblossom Private Sch., Inc., High School Requirements, requirements.html (last visited July 13, 2012).

With respect to attendance, Vicki reported that PPS does not keep a time log of student attendance for students outside the state of California. The parent(s) of those students track the time that the student spends reading the book assignments. PPS logs the reading time of students in California pursuant to California state regulations.

PPS has filed an affidavit with the State of California, and California lists PPS as an “active” California private school located within Keppel Union School District. Cal. Dep’t of Educ., California School Directory: School: Pearblossom Private School, Inc.,http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/sd/details.asp?cds=19646427069792&public=N (last visited July 3, 2012). PPS is accredited by both the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Schools (WASCACS) and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), which is a division of AdvancEd. Additionally, PPS has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. http://www.la.bbb.org/business-reviews/Private-Schools/Pearblossom-Private-School-Inc-in-Pearblossom-CA-13011559 st visited July 13, 2012).

DISCUSSION

Federal Law

To be eligible for child’s insurance benefits between the ages of 18 and 19, the child must be in full-time attendance (FTA) at an educational institution (EI). Social Security Act § 202(d)(1)(B), (d)(7)(D), 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1)(B), (d)(7)(D); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367 (2012); Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001(A). An EI is a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under the law of the state or other jurisdiction in which it is located. Social Security Act § 202(d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.200. With limited exceptions, FTA is defined as attendance of at least 20 hours per week for 13 weeks; a student must meet both federal and state attendance requirements. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c), POMS RS 00205.300. Students in home schooling programs permitted under state law must meet the full-time course load requirements for the state in which they reside. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b).

Under POMS RS 00205.295, “[a]n online school is one that offers Internet-based courses to students. Online schools vary considerably in the methods used to provide education to students. Some features of online schools may include virtual classrooms; an interactive curriculum; email, telephone, and fax access to teachers; either online or in-person completion of tests; required time spent online that the school monitors; and individualized instruction.” In contrast, “[a] correspondence school is a school that teaches by mailing lessons and exercises to the student. Upon completion, the student returns the exercises to the school for grading.” POMS RS 00295.330.

Generally, a student is not in FTA based on correspondence school courses even if the correspondence school meets the definition of an EI. POMS RS 00205.330(B). The agency expressly excludes from child’s insurance benefit eligibility those individuals 18 years old and older who are enrolled solely in correspondence courses because it does not believe such courses satisfy the Social Security Act’s definition of a secondary school. See When You Are a Full-Time Elementary or Secondary School Student, 61 Fed. Reg. 38361, 38362 (July 24, 1996) (codified at 20 C.F.R. pt. 404). Attendance at a correspondence school may be permissible for a limited portion of the school year if a student is unable to attend regular classes due to circumstances beyond his or her control. POMS RS 00205.330(B); see 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(c). In addition, correspondence courses may be used for home schooling so long as all requirements of home schooling are met. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367; POMS RS 00205.275.

California Law

Because PPS is located in California, we look to California law. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.200. In California, a “school” is defined to have the following: (1) One or more teachers to give instruction; (2) an assigned administrator; (3) based in one or more buildings; and (4) enrolled or prospectively enrolled studhttp://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/si/ds/dosinfo.aspents. Cal. Dep’t of Educ., Definition of a School: Content, (last visited July 12, 2012). A private school is “a school, as defined, that is owned or operated by a private person, firm, association, organization, or corporation, rather than by a public agency.” Id.

California minimally regulates private schools. See Cal. Dep’t of Educ., Private Schools Frequently Asked Questions, http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/ps/rq/psfaq.asp (last visited July 10, 2012) (“The CDE [California Department of Education] has no authority to monitor or regulate private schools. A private school is a private business or nonprofit entity and most issues are controlled by the private school unless regulated by law (such as health or safety laws) or regulated by private contract.”); see also Jonathan v. Superior Court, 165 Cal. App. 4th 1074, 1092 n.20 (2008) (“We note here that the school district verifies only if a private school affidavit has been filed; the district is granted no authority by [California Education Code § 48222] to confirm that the private school is in compliance with the other requirements of the private school exemption.”).

Private schools are not subject to state curriculum requirements for public schools, though they must offer courses in the “several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools of the state.” Cal. Educ. Code § 48222; Cal. Dep’t of Educ., Private Schools Frequently Asked Questions: Private School Records; Starting a Private School; and Complaints, http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/ps/rq/psfaq.asp#c7 (last visited July 12, 2012). In addition, the California Department of Education website indicates that it has no role in determining the validity or acceptability of private school diplomas. Cal. Dep’t of Educ., Private Schools Frequently Asked Questions: Private Schools: Alternatives; Regulations; Selecting a School, http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/ps/rq/psfaq.asp#a19 (last visited July 12, 2012). However, it notes that “[p]rivate high schools that are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges grant diplomas that generally are universally accepted.” Id.

California exempts children attending certain private schools from compulsory public school attendance. Cal. Educ. Code §§ 48220, 48222. Such private schools must be taught in the English language and instruct in the same branches of study as required for public schools. Cal. Educ. Code § 48222. Children at private schools must also be instructed by “persons capable of teaching.” Id. The private school must keep attendance of students. Id. Furthermore, the private school must file an affidavit annually with the state. Id. However, such affidavit “shall not be construed as an evaluation, recognition, approval, or endorsement of any private school or course.” Id.

California provides an online directory of private schools that have filed an affidavit and have more than six students. Cal. Dep’t of Educ., California School Directory, http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/sd/ (last visited July 3, 2012); Cal. Dep’t of Educ., California School Directory: School: Pearblossom Private School, Inc., http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/sd/details.asp?cds=19646427069792&public=N (last visited July 12, 2012); Cal. Dep’t of Educ., Private Schools Frequently Asked Questions, http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/ps/rq/psfaq.asp. PPS has filed the required affidavit with the state of California. See Cal. Dep’t of Educ., California School Directory: School: Pearblossom Private School, Inc., http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/sd/details.asp?cds=19646427069792&public=N (last visited July 10, 2012). The affidavit, valid for 2011–2012, contains information regarding the school’s location, administrators, number of teachers, and number of students. Cal. Dep’t of Educ., Private School Directory, http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/si/ps/documents/privateschools1112.xls (last visited July 3, 2012) (Excel spreadsheet).

Educational Institution

By filing a current affidavit, PPS has established an exemption from compulsory public school attendance for each California student enrolled. See Cal. Educ. Code § 48222; Cal. Dep’t of Educ., Private Schools Frequently Asked Questions: Private Schools and the Private School Affidavit, http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/ps/rq/psfaq.asp#b8. Based on the available state information, PPS meets California’s definitions for a school and private school. See Cal. Dep’t of Educ., Definition of a School: Content, http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/si/ds/dosinfo.asp. The information provided on Form SSA-5002 and by Vicki indicates that PPS tracks the time of students’ living in California.4 From a review of the PPS website, it appears that PPS teaches its courses in the English language—at least by providing reading material in English—and has the same required courses as the public school curriculum. See Pearblossom Private Sch., Inc., High School Requirements, http://www.pearblossomschool.com/requirements.html. Furthermore, it appears that PPS offers the same categories of courses as public high schools as required by California Education Code section 48222. See id. In addition, PPS’s high school requirements meet or exceed the California public high school graduation requirements. See id.; Cal. Educ. Code § 51225.3; Cal. Dep’t of Educ., State Minimum Course Requirements, http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/gs/hs/hsgrmin.asp (last visited July 12, 2012).

Based on the foregoing and in the absence of evidence to the contrary, PPS qualifies as an EI.

Correspondence School

However, the information provided on the PPS website and by Vicki on Form SSA 5002 indicate that the PPS program is more akin to a school that offers correspondence courses than an online school. In particular, the only portion of the curriculum that is online is the option of taking online tests to review completed coursework that have been previously mailed to the student. See Pearblossom Private Sch., Inc., Description of PPS, Inc., http://www.pearblossomschool.com/description.html. Students use the telephone to contact the school if they have questions. In POMS RS 00205.295(A), the agency defines online schools as those offering “Internet-based courses,” while RS 00205.330 defines correspondence schools as those that teach “by mailing lessons and exercises to the student” which the student returns to the school for grading. Although RS 00205.295(A) recognizes that online schools vary widely in their method of providing education, to accept PPS as an online school would undermine the correspondence course distinction required by regulation. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b) (requiring full-time attendance in a “noncorrespondence course of at least 13 weeks duration”); 61 Fed. Reg. 38361, 38362 (explaining rationale for same).

Based on the available evidence, we conclude that PPS is not an online school but instead is a correspondence school.5

Questions for Further investigation

Although the agency generally does not accept correspondence courses for purpose of FTA, it may do so in limited circumstances. POMS RS 00205.330(B). The POMS provides procedures for obtaining information from a student to determine if attendance at a correspondence school is permissible for a portion of a school year. POMS RS 00205.330(B), (C). The agency should consider obtaining this additional information.

Austin may also still qualify for Auxiliary Child Benefits if he meets the requirements for home schooling under South Carolina law. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1); POMS RS 00205.330(B) (recognizing that home schooling may use correspondence school course materials). “If the student’s courses are from a correspondence school, the home school teacher must instruct the student using the course material.” POMS RS 00205.275(C). Because the information submitted by Austin does not provide sufficient evidence to make the home schooling determination, the agency would require additional information in order to make a determination whether Austin qualifies for Auxiliary Child Benefits.6

Conclusion

PPS meets the requirements of a private school under California law and qualifies as an educational institution under 20 C.F.R. § 404.367 and POMS RS 00205.200. However, PPS is a correspondence school not an online school. Although correspondence courses generally may not be used to establish full-time attendance, they may be used for home schooling and for limited periods when regular school attendance is not possible. The agency should obtain additional information as discussed above to determine whether Austin qualifies for Auxiliary Child Benefits under these exceptions.

C. PR 08-38 California Public Independent Study Schools Los Angeles Unified School District: City of Angels School

DATE: December 30, 2008

1. SYLLABUS

The City of Angels School in Los Angeles, California, which is an independent study school in the Los Angeles Unified School District, provides education in accordance with California law. It is, therefore, an educational institution (EI) for SSA purposes. In general, all California public schools that offer only independent study are EIs for SSA purposes if the school's status is shown as "active" on the California Department of Education website. If the website shows the status of a school as active, presume the school to be an EI for SSA purposes unless there is an indication that the school may not qualify as an EI. If possible, also verify the school's active status by checking the website of the relevant school district. A list of links to California school districts is available at there is any indication that the school may not qualify as an EI, follow the instructions in GN 01010.815 to request a legal precedent opinion.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You asked for an opinion as to whether the City of Angels School, an independent study school of the Los Angeles Unified School District, qualifies as an educational institution under the California statutes. We have also considered the more general question of whether California public schools that offer only independent study qualify as an educational institution.

ANSWER

The City of Angels School of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) meets the Agency's requirements for an educational institution. Furthermore, all California public schools offering only independent study generally meet the Agency's requirements for educational institutions where the status of the school is listed as "active" on the California Department of Education website located at http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/sd/herefore, an OGC opinion may not be necessary for these schools unless you are aware of specific facts indicating that a particular school may not qualify as an educational institution, or you seek an opinion about the independent study program of a particular child.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF FACTS

Chris , the child of wage earner Charles, attends City of Angels School in Los Angeles, California. City of Angels School is a public school offering only independent study. On November 3, 2008, Jeff forwarded information from the Chatsworth District Office, and asked for an opinion exclusively on the issue of whether this independent school qualifies as an educational institution under the California statutes. Jeff also agreed that the region may benefit from an opinion addressing the broader question of how to determine if a California public school offering only independent study qualifies as an educational institution.

The California Department of Education website indicates that the status of the City of Angels School is "active" and confirms that this school is within the LAUSD. http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/sd/details.asp?cds=19647331996115&public=Yst visited Dec. 3, 2008). According to the LAUSD website, City of Angels School is "the" independent study school for that school District. http://www.lausd.net/City_of_Angels/home1.htmlst visited Dec. 3, 2008).

ANALYSIS

An educational institution is an elementary or secondary school "which provides elementary or secondary education, respectively, as determined under the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which it is located." Social Security Act § 202(d)(7)(C)(i); 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(7)(C)(i); see also 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a) (2008); Program Operations Manual System( POMS) RS 00205.200. Assuming the other requirements are met, child's benefits are available to those students in an independent study education program satisfying the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which the student resides, where the local school or school district/jurisdiction administers the program. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(2); accord POMS RS 00205.300. POMS RS 00205.285(A) contemplates that independent study programs may be run by local school districts in accordance with state law requirements. Students in independent study programs can qualify for benefits if the student is in full-time attendance based on federal standards and the school provides elementary or secondary education as determined under State law. POMS RS 00205.285(B).

In California, a "school district or county office of education may offer independent study to meet the educational needs of pupils" within certain guidelines. Cal. Educ. Code § 51745(a). School districts can operate independent study in a number of ways, such as a program within a school or as a stand-alone alternative school. See Independent Study Manual at 1-4, available athttp://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/eo/is/excerpts.aspst visited Dec. 3, 2008). Every student engaged in independent study must be enrolled in a specified school of a school district or county Office of Education. Cal. Educ. Code § 51747.5(a). These requirements are generally consistent with the requirements in POMS RS 00205.200(A) and RS 00205.285 that an independent study program be part of an educational institution authorized by the state, and permitting a student to accrue credits towards graduation.

The California Department of Education has an official website on which a search can be made for schools in the state, available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/sd/ st visited Dec. 3, 2008). On that website, one may define a search to include only public schools. Searches can be by school name, by county, by city, and other variables. Once the school is located, a summary is generated indicating the school name, county, school district, contact information, the grades taught, the type of school, status, and other information. See, e.g., City of Angels School summary at ails.asp?cds=19647331996115&public=Y (last visited http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/sd/Dec. 3, 2008).

The Agency generally may rely on this official website of the California Department of Education to determine if a public school exclusively offering independent study is an educational institution under POMS RS 00205.200 and RS 00205.285. If the status of the school is listed as "active," the school should be presumed to be an educational institution under the Social Security Act and regulations. Whenever possible, the website of the relevant school district should be checked to confirm that status. Nonetheless, facts indicating the school may not qualify as an educational institution should not be ignored. If there is a specific reason to question the school's status as an educational institution, we would be happy to provide an opinion on the specific situation.


Footnotes:

[1]

In this case, the field office has already established that E~’s attendance satisfies FTA. Thus, we only focus on whether FAS is an EI under California law.

[2]

CDS code is the “official, unique identification of a school within California.” Schs. & Dists., Cal. Dep’t of Educ., http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/si/ds/ (last visited Oct. 9, 2015). The following information was obtained from CDS Administrator at the California Department of Education (CDE) over e-mail correspondence on October 8, 2015:

Once a school submits a CDS code application to the CDE, the CDS Administration reviews the information to check whether a school satisfies the definition of public school set by the CDE (http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/si/ds/dos.asp#dospublic). If the school satisfies the criteria, the CDS Administration assigns a CDS code and lists the school as a public school on the online school directory and the public school database. If a school is listed on the public school directory with a CDS code, that means the CDE is identifying and recognizing the school as a California public school and providing State funds to that school. At this time, reviewing the submitted information and assigning a CDS code to schools is not a system based on the California Education Code or California Code of Regulations, but is an internal CDE policy/procedure.

[3]

Because the home schooling and attendance requirements must be considered under the law of the state where the child resides, and the child does not live within Region IX, we have not addressed those questions in this opinion. This opinion determines only that California-based Pearblossom Private School qualifies as an educational institution. We have, however, provided additional guidance regarding the home schooling questions raised by this claim.

[4]

There is potentially a question as to whether PPS meets the attendance recording requirement in California Education Code § 48222 because the broad language of that provision could be read to imply that PPS must keep track of the time of all students at the school, not only California students. However, because California enacted statutes to apply to its residents, section 48222 is best understood as applying only to those PPS students who come within the scope of California’s compulsory public school attendance requirement. This requirement is inapplicable for a child who does not reside in California.

[5]

Our conclusion is consistent with existing precedent opinions for schools in other regions. See POMS PR 07905.011, PR 12-038 Eligibility for Child’s Insurance Benefits as a Full-Time Student Based on Courses Taken Through Continental Academy, an Online Entity Located in Florida (Dec. 29, 2011) (concluding school was correspondence school where the school did not have any interactive learning and materials received on line or by mail); POMS RS 08005.048, PR 04-329 Texas State Law Requirements for Internet Online Schooling (July 19, 2004) (concluding school offered correspondence course where it provided materials and tests via CD-ROM even though tests were submitted via internet for grading because internet submission only differed from correspondence school “in methodology” but not substance).

[6]

We note a factual irregularity that may warrant further investigation. Rusty, the PPS registrar, has certified Austin’s attendance on SSA1372-BK although Vicki advised that the school only tracks attendance for California residence. If the agency resolves the home schooling issue in such a way that it will be required to consider whether Austin’s attendance at PPS is FTA, additional follow-up with PPS may be needed to clarify the basis of Rusty’s certification. In other words, if the school did not track Austin’s attendance, how could Rusty certify that attendance? However, the certifying school official for home schooling FTA is the home schooling instructor, and therefore a new certification from that person would be required in lieu of a PPS certification. See POMS RS 00205.275(C).


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/1507905006
PR 07905.006 - California - 12/08/2015
Batch run: 12/08/2015
Rev:12/08/2015