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New Hampshire

May 19, 2010

HSLDA Challenges Absurd Ruling in State Supreme Court

Home School Legal Defense Association has filed a friend of the court brief in a New Hampshire custody case that threatened to establish a rule that could be harmful to homeschoolers. In a case that has made headlines across the country, a trial court ordered a homeschooled girl into public school based in large part on non-expert testimony of the guardian ad litem (GAL) assigned to the case. The GAL’s testimony implied that homeschooling could not meet the future social and academic needs of all adolescents, not only the child in this case—even though the court acknowledged that she was excelling both academically and socially while being homeschooled.

The homeschooling mother appealed the decision and is being represented by ADF allied attorney John Anthony Simmons. The case is pending before the New Hampshire Supreme Court. HSLDA is not often involved in custody cases. Issues in custody cases usually involve disputes over which parent can legally make educational decisions or what is in the best interests of the child—rather than about homeschooling. In this case, however, the New Hampshire family court wrote so broadly in applying the “best interests of the child” standard as to imply a blanket rule that not only is public school preferred to homeschooling, but that homeschooling is unable to meet the needs of all adolescent children. Such an absurd assertion simply cannot be left unchallenged.

HSLDA was joined on the brief by Christian Home Educators of New Hampshire (CheNH) and Catholics United for Home Education (CUHE). The brief to the New Hampshire Supreme Court explains the benefits of homeschooling, summarizes the empirical research on homeschooling, and demonstrates that homeschooling is more than adequate to meet the developmental needs of adolescents. The brief is signed by HSLDA Staff Attorney Michael Donnelly, who served as local counsel for HSLDA, CheNH and CUHE. Donnelly noted that the empirical evidence in favor of homeschooling is overwhelming.

“We reviewed nearly 60 articles and eight cases from other states,” said Donnelly, “which conclusively demonstrate that homeschooling is highly effective form of education that definitely meets the academic and social needs of children of all ages, and that it is error for a court to prefer public school over homeschooling, as the court did in this case.”

HSLDA is pleased to serve as an advocate and protector for homeschooling freedom wherever and whenever that freedom is threatened. We thank our over 85,000 member families for their faithful support that allow us to be there where freedom is threatened.

 Other Resources

Download a copy of HSLDA’s amicus brief (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).