The Home School Court Report
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Cover Stories

Houston-Area Cases Resolved, Postponed

Texas Class Action Suit Proceeds

CHEA Honors HSLDA Board Member Michael Smith

HSLDA Membership Statistics - June 21, 1985

President’s Corner
C O V E R   S T O R Y

Houston-Area Cases Resolved, Postponed

HSLDA gained major victories in May 1985, when 2 of the Houston area families won at trial, and almost all of the other families had their trials indefinitely postponed.

At one point in May, HSLDA had 11 active cases nationwide, and 9 of them were in the Houston, Texas area (the other two are in Ohio and Michigan). Stopping the home school prosecutions in the Houston area became a major goal for HSLDA.

The first victory came on May 8, when Mark and Irma Davis were acquited of violating the Texas compulsory attendance law. HSLDA Director Jordan Lorence commented that the Davis trial was totally unnecessary, because Mrs. Davis has a valid Texas teaching certificate. “Mrs. Davis is qualified to teach other peoples’ children in a public school, but the state argued that it is illegal for her to teach her own children at home. Such ‘logic’ makes the authorities look ridiculous,’ Lorence said.

HSLDA hired Tom Sanders to represent the Davis family in court. One court observer reported favorably on Sander's creative and sometimes humorous defence tactics. Sanders used a diagram of the Davis’ house to demonstrate where the children were home schooled. After the parents identified the various rooms on the diagram, Tom Sanders reffered to the diagram and the homeschool as the “scene of the crime.”

The justice of the peace who presided over the trial told Sanders and attorney Mike Edwards, who has handled other Houston and Katy cases, that he would dismiss charges against all home schoolers unless the parents were clearly abusing or neglecting their children.

The other cases, mainly from Katy, that were pending in County Court, were indefinitely postponed pending the outcome of the class action suit in FFt. Worth. These cases are not technically dead, because they could be revived if the class acion suit fails. If the class action suit prevails, then the charges against the parents will ultimately be dismissed.

The second outright court victory camie in case aagainst Ginger and Don Haluzan, one of the “Katy 5” families. The other four families had been convicted in the justice of the peace court, and appealed to the County Court. Mike Edwars, brought the case to the judge who had presided over the Davis'’ trial. The charges were dismissed.

One more trial remains in kate June, of Larry and Rhonda Fike. The attorneys in Houston expect this case to be dismissed at the justice of the peace level, too.

Michael Farris, president and founder of HSLDA, expressed satisfaction with the results in these cases. “The Houstion area represented our worst hot spot. To get these cases stopped or postponed, helps the entire organization, as well as the whole home school movement nationwide,” Farris said.