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8/6/2004 6:38:33 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Pennsylvania--Homeschoolers' Religious Freedom Case Can Proceed

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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August 6, 2004


Pennsylvania--Homeschoolers' Religious Freedom Case Can Proceed


Dear HSLDA members and friends:

Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas Judge William J. Ober ruled
on August 6, 2004 that a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania's homeschool
law may proceed.

Dr. Mark and Maryalice Newborn challenged the law under Pennsylvania's
Religious Freedom Protection Act and the U.S. Constitution.

The defendant, Franklin Regional School District, had moved to dismiss
the complaint, arguing that the Newborns had experienced insufficient
harm to warrant judicial relief. Judge Ober categorically rejected
all of the district's arguments.

The Newborns are represented by Home School Legal Defense Association
Chairman and General Counsel Mike Farris, who argued the case on July
30, 2004. "Religious homeschoolers are over-burdened in
Pennsylvania," said Farris. "Today's ruling is a significant first
step toward relieving that burden."

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 and by the district superintendent.

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.

Click here for a summary of the Newborn case:
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=1731

According to the recently enacted Religious Freedom Protection Act,
state officials are required to remedy substantial burdens imposed on
a person's religious faith by any state statute. If the officials
refuse to relieve the burden, the RFPA provides that the Courts of
Common Pleas may order them to do so. The RFPA defines "substantial
burden" as any law that "compels conduct or expression that violates a
specific tenet of a person's religious faith."

"Dr. and Mrs. Newborns' religious convictions are shared by thousands
of religiously-motivated homeschoolers in Pennsylvania and across the
country," said Farris.

The school district must now file a response to the Newborns'
complaint.


Sincerely,

James R. Mason
Litigation Counsel
Home School Legal Defense Association



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