Challenge to Teacher Certification
Recently, the state supreme court of North Dakota upheld the convictions of four homeschool families for violating the compulsory attendance law in North Dakota v. Larsen et al. The families were challenging the North Dakota requirement that all schools, including homeschools, must be operated by a certified teacher. The court, however, upheld the certification requirement and found that the state had a legitimate interest in imposing such restrictions on private education.
The families recently contacted HSLDA President Michael Farris, and he has agreed to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. He will be working with attorney Greg Lange, who is the counsel for the families. On June 17, 1986, Farris will be filing his brief requesting the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. If the Court grants permission, Farris, a member of the U.S. Supreme Court bar, will argue the case personally.
Pray that the U.S. Supreme Court will take this case so that the dangerous precedent set by the North Dakota Supreme Court may be reversed in favor of homeschoolers.
In the state of Iowa, the Iowa v. Trucke case also involves the issue of teacher certification. The Trucke family, a member of HSLDA, was charged with violating the compulsory attendance law because they only used a certified teacher four hours a week. The Iowa District Court for Monona County ruled that children in a homeschool must receive instruction by a certified teacher for at least 120 days in each school year.
HSLDA is in the process of appealing this decision to the Iowa State Supreme Court and they will be filing their brief at the end of July. HSLDA’s legal staff will be arguing that the certification requirement is unenforceable because part of the compulsory attendance statute has already been ruled void for vagueness by Fellowship Baptist Church v. Benton, 620 F. Supp. 308 (1985). According to major U.S. Supreme Court precedent (U.S. v. Reese, 92 U.S.214, and Berea College v. Kentucky, 211 U.S.214), a court cannot reject a portion of a statute which is unconstitutional and retain the remainder where the two parts are incapable of separation.
Since the federal court has ruled that the requirement that children must receive instruction that is equivalent to public schools is vague and unconstitutional, the portion requiring certified teachers cannot be enforced. HSLDA argues that the certification requirement cannot be enforced because it is dependent and inseparable from the equivalency portion of the statute which was ruled unconstitutional.