HSLDA News
May 6, 2003

Litigation Update: Goulart and Pelletier

Home School Legal Defense Association will argue two cases in federal court this week. Both deal with discrimination against homeschoolers.

Goulart and Travers v. Calvert County
Calvert County, Maryland, has refused to permit two homeschooling moms the use of their community centers for a fiber arts class and a geography club, explicitly stating, "home schoolers may not use community centers." These centers are generally available to all citizens of the community for similar activities.

Home School Legal Defense Association filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for Maryland 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. The Court 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.

Last fall, HSLDA appealed the District Court decision to the United States Court of Appeals for Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia.

On Friday, May 9, HSLDA General Counsel Michael P. Farris will be delivering oral arguments before the Appeals Court. The arguments will be held at the U.S. Courthouse at the corner of 10th and Main Streets, Room 226 in Richmond, Virginia.

Oral arguments will begin at 9:00 a.m. (Three other cases are scheduled before ours, so the exact start time cannot be determined.) The arguments will be open to the public. We encourage you to attend and to bring other homeschoolers with you. (Please do not bring small children or babies; however, well-behaved children are welcome.)

For more information on this case visit our website at:
http://www.hslda.org/legal/state/md/20000131Goulart/default.asp

Pelletier v. Maine Principals Association
On November 26, 2002, the Maine Principals' Association (MPA) director Richard Durost issued a memorandum warning MPA member schools that their eligibility to compete with other member schools would be jeopardized if they allowed homeschoolers to play on private athletic teams. Homeschoolers, according to the memo, would still be allowed to play school sports, but only on public school teams. Thus homeschooling students Douglas and Laura Pelletier found themselves excluded from their yearly participation in Seacoast Christian School track and cross-country teams' spring season.

The MPA is the sole agency regulating high school interscholastic extracurricular activities in Maine. Member schools, which include all of Maine's public high schools and several private high schools, agree to follow certain rules governing competition and eligibility. Since 1995, Maine statutes have required public schools to allow homeschooled students who live in their district to participate in extracurricular activities. Also, since 1995, homeschooled students have participated in extracurricular activities at private schools without controversy and with the full knowledge of the MPA, its member schools, and the public.

On March 18, 2003, Home School Legal Defense Association filed a complaint requesting federal court to issue a preliminary injunction against the MPA interpretation, allowing the Pelletiers and other Maine homeschoolers like them to participate as planned during the spring season. For Doug Pelletier, this spring is his last chance for involvement before he goes to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

The hearing for this case is on Thursday, May 8, 2003 at 9:00 a.m. in front of Federal District Judge Brock Hornby at the Edward T. Gignoux Courthouse at 156 Federal St, Room 102 in Portland, Maine.

The arguments will be open to the public. We encourage you to attend and to bring other homeschoolers with you. (Please do not bring small children or babies; however, well-behaved children are welcome.)

For more information on this case visit our website at:
http://www.hslda.org/Legal/state/me/20030320Pelletier/default.asp