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Community centers discriminate against home schoolers
Filed: January 31, 2000, Calvert County.
Nature of Case:
Calvert County, Maryland refused to permit two homeschooling moms the use of their community centers for a fiber arts class and a geography club. The classes would have been open to the public. These centers are generally available to all citizens of the community for similar activities, including knitting and Russian language classes. The County's policy is explicit: "[H]ome schoolers may not use community centers." The County maintains that because under Maryland law homeschoolers can count the classes toward fulfilling part of their educational requirements it is justified in banning homeschoolers use of the centers.
HSLDA filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court asking the Court to declare the policy a violation of the First Amendment guarantee of free speech and of the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the laws. When Calvert County opened its facility to the general use of the public for conducting similar classes, it could not constitutionally deny access to homeschoolers on the grounds that some of the children would get educational credit for them.
8-20-02: The United States District Court for Maryland held that the Community Center had not violated the homeschoolers' rights reasoning that teaching the young is not speech protected by the First Amendment. It also held that the Community Center could legally exclude homeschoolers without violating the Fourteenth Amendment.
9-26-03: HSLDA appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia. Oral arguments were held on May 9, 2003. The Fourth Circuit overturned the District Court, saying that teaching the young is speech protected by the First Amendment. However, it held that the Community Center had not violated the homeschoolers' rights by excluding them.
Status: HSLDA has decided not to appeal to the United States Supreme Court. Case closed.
Last Updated: January 21, 2004.
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