March 18, 2002
Commonwealth v. Mrs. P
Mother charged with violation of compulsory school attendance law

Filed: May 2, 2001, Wyoming County

Nature of Case: This single mother of two disabled, adopted children is being prosecuted because she is allegedly in violation of the qualified private tutor provisions in Pennsylvania law. Mrs. P is a certified teacher, but according to the statute, a tutor must be both certified and compensated in some way in order to qualify. Mrs. P receives an adoption subsidy due to the special needs of her children, but she is not directly compensated for her educational services. A criminal complaint was filed in district justice court alleging that Mrs. P is in violation of compulsory attendance law. HSLDA argued that the statute requiring that a private tutor be compensated is an unconstitutional infringement upon Mrs. P's right to direct the education of her child.

Ruling: At the trial on June 6, 2001, the district justice held that the statute requires compensation, so he must find Mrs. P guilty. He fined her $5.00 and encouraged us to get this unfair situation "resolved" (read "appeal").

Status: The prosecutor dropped the charges based on a statute requiring judges to dismiss petty infractions.

Last Updated: March 18, 2002.

 Other Resources

Pennsylvania—A Legal Analysis (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)