|| LITIGATION SUMMARIES
Appeal under consideration
Maine Principals' Association (MPA) Director Richard Durost issued a memorandum in November 2002 warning MPA member private schools that their eligibility to compete with other member schools would be jeopardized if they allowed homeschoolers to play on their athletic teams. Homeschoolers would still be allowed to play-but only on public school teams.
Case: Pelletier v. Maine Principals' Association|
For homeschooling students Douglas and Laura Pelletier, Durost's memo represented a shut-out. They found themselves excluded from their yearly participation in Seacoast Christian School's track and cross-country teams' spring season. For Doug Pelletier, this spring was his last chance for involvement before leaving to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
The MPA is the sole agency regulating high school interscholastic extracurricular activities in Maine. Member schools, which include all of Maine's public high schools and several private high schools, agree to follow certain rules governing competition and eligibility. Since 1995, Maine statutes have required public schools to allow homeschooled students who live in their district to participate in extracurricular activities. Also since 1995, homeschooled students have participated in extracurricular activities at private schools without controversy and with the full knowledge of the MPA, its member schools, and the public.
On March 18, 2003, Home School Legal Defense Association filed a complaint requesting the court to issue a preliminary injunction against the MPA interpretation, allowing the Pelletiers and other Maine homeschoolers like them to participate as planned during the spring season.
On Thursday, May 8, 2003, HSLDA Attorney Jim Mason defended the Pelletiers in a hearing before a Federal District Judge. The judge found no federal constitutional law violation, and remanded the case to the Maine State Superior Court to resolve the remaining possible state constitutional law violation.
The Pelletiers have decided not to appeal, so the case has been closed.
Farris delivers oral arguments
On Friday, May 9, 2003, Home School Legal Defense Association General Counsel Michael P. Farris delivered oral arguments before the United States Appeals Court in Richmond, Virginia, asking the Court to declare Calvert County, Maryland's policy of discriminating against homeschoolers a violation of the First Amendment.
Case: Goulart and Travers v. Calvert County|
In 1999, two homeschooling mothers applied to use their local community centers for a fiber arts class and a geography club. Calvert County responded, explicitly stating that "[h]ome schoolers may not use community centers."
Maryland's community centers are generally available to all local citizens for similar activities, including knitting and Russian language classes. HSLDA filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Maryland asking the court to declare the policy a violation of the First Amendment guarantee of free speech and of the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the laws.
The district court held that the community center had not violated the homeschoolers' rights, reasoning that teaching the young is not speech protected by the First Amendment. It also held that the community center could legally exclude homeschoolers without violating the Fourteenth Amendment.
Last fall, HSLDA appealed this decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. HSLDA now awaits a decision from the appeals court panel of three judges.