From the HSLDA E-lert Service:


7/29/2004 3:57:46 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Pennsylvania--Mike Farris Defends Family's Religious Freedom in Westmoreland County

From the HSLDA E-lert Service...

July 29, 2004

Pennsylvania--Mike Farris Defends Family's Religious Freedom in
Westmoreland County

Dear HSLDA members and friends:

Home School Legal Defense Association Chairman and General Counsel
Mike Farris begins oral arguments in Westmoreland County Court of
Common Pleas tomorrow in defense of the Newborn family. "This case is
vital if homeschool freedom is to be protected in Pennsylvania," said

The Newborns are a family of seven who have been homeschooling for 11
years due to their sincere religious conviction that they, not the
state, are responsible before God for their children's education.

Pennsylvania's homeschool law is one of the most restrictive in the
nation. Homeschool families must provide detailed curriculum, submit
to regular testing and have the homeschool program reviewed annually
by certified teachers. In addition, because of vague terms in the
statute, school officials are given absolute discretion to determine
whether students have made adequate progress. Therefore,
financially-interested parties are making a judgment on a parent's
exercise of a fundamental right, a violation of due process.

The Newborns believe the civil government lacks jurisdiction to
approve or administratively supervise the education they provide to
their children. They believe that it would be sinful for them to
engage in conduct or expression that would cede their parental
jurisdiction and authority to the civil government. The Pennsylvania
home education law does precisely that.

Pennsylvania's home education law creates a substantial burden on the
Newborns' fundamental right to homeschool. Failure to follow all the
rules opens parents to criminal prosecution for truancy. Because they
are refusing to comply with the home education law due to their
sincere religious convictions, the Newborns are facing this

Tomorrow in oral arguments, Farris will argue that the Newborns have a
genuine claim under Pennsylvania's newly enacted Religious Freedom
Protection Act and that the case should be heard. This Act guarantees
that Pennsylvanians will not be unduly burdened by the state because
of their religious beliefs.

"Religious homeschoolers are over-burdened in Pennsylvania. We plan
to change this," said Farris.

Please pray for the success of this case, which has the potential to
protect religious homeschoolers throughout the entire Commonwealth.


James R. Mason
Litigation Counsel
Home School Legal Defense Association

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