Recently, separate lawsuits were filed in federal court by homeschooling parents who argued that the Pennsylvania homeschooling statute, 24 P.S. 13-1327.1 et seq. was an unconstitutional violation of the religious and parental freedom rights of parents and students. The separate cases are Combs, et ux. v. Homer Center School District, et al., Prevish, et ux. v. Norwin School District, et al., Newborn, et al. v. Franklin Regional School District, et al., Hankin, et al. v. Bristol Township School District, et al., Nelson, et ux. v. Titusville Area School District, et al., and Weber, et ux. v. DuBois Area School District, et al. The suits were consolidated into a single case before Western District of Pennsylvania Judge Arthur Schwab. In an opinion dated May 25, 2006, Judge Schwab granted summary judgment against the plaintiffs and in favor of the school districts, and held that the statute’s provisions requiring parents to submit information concerning the homeschool programs to school districts do not violate the free exercise, free speech or establishment clause of the First Amendment, nor do they violate the Constitution’s due process clause or the Pennsylvania Religious Freedom Protection Act.
The plaintiff homeschoolers have appealed Judge Schwab’s decision to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and that appeal is pending. Maiello Brungo & Maiello represented two of the school districts in the case and we will be involved in the appeal as well. Stay tuned for further updates to this matter in future editions of this newsletter.