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7/15/2003 5:10:04 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Pennsylvania--Religious Freedom Act May Provide Relief From Homeschool Law

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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July 15, 2003

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

Many homeschoolers worked to pass to a new law to end 90% of controls
on homeschoolers in Pennsylvania. The effort failed - for now.

Although virtually all homeschoolers want to be free from the
restrictive requirements of Pennsylvania's homeschool law, only some
have strong religious convictions against the government control. For
families with such religious convictions, there may be a way of
escape.

Last year, the Religious Freedom Protection Act (RFPA) became law.
This allows a school district or court to recognize a family's
religious objection to the homeschool law and exempt them from all or
part of the requirements.

This application of the RFPA to exempt someone from the homeschool
law has not been tested yet. We cannot guarantee it will be
successful. However, out of the 501 school districts in Pennsylvania,
it is likely some will recognize families' religious exemptions in
order to avoid court. Others may not, but we are willing to test this
in court.

To help you determine whether you qualify for a religious exemption
under RFPA and to know what steps to take after that, we have
prepared a packet of information for your review. This information
has been developed from established case law and the provisions of
RFPA. The packet includes the following:

1) An overview and analysis of the new law by Dewitt T. Black, III,
entitled Pennsylvania's Religious Freedom Protection Act: A Legal
Analysis. This will help you determine whether you should seek a
religious exemption.

2) A letter written by Christopher J. Klicka on the following
subject: Steps for Claiming a Religious Exemption from the
Pennsylvania Homeschool Law. This memorandum contains step-by-step
instructions on how to notify your school district of your claim of a
religious exemption.

3) A sample affidavit for you to follow in obtaining a statement from
a pastor or priest verifying that your beliefs are religious.

4) An article by Christopher J. Klicka entitled Biblical Reasons to
Home School. This article contains many Scripture references upon
which you may rely in explaining your religious convictions to public
school officials.

If you are a member of HSLDA and would like to receive the religious
exemption packet materials, you may contact our office and request
that they be mailed to you. You may also download them from our
website at:

http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=963
(requires member log-in)

It is important to note that RFPA does not specifically state
anything about providing an exemption to complying with the
homeschool law. RFPA is a new law in Pennsylvania, so we are in
uncharted waters to a great extent. However, we are of the opinion
that the provisions of RFPA are applicable to cases in which a
person's religious beliefs are substantially burdened by compliance
with the homeschool law. We are willing to represent any of our
member families who believe they are in this category, but the
outcome of the case is not possible to predict with any certainty.

Let us know if we can answer any questions or assist you in claiming
a religious exemption.

Sincerely,

Christopher J. Klicka
HSLDA Senior Counsel

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