Home Schooled Girl Ordered to Attend Public School Over “Rigid Faith”

Laconia, N.H. – A 10-year old child in New Hampshire has been court ordered to attend public school in Meredith because the girl “appeared to reflect her mother’s rigidity on questions of faith.” The child has been homeschooled since first grade by her mother with a curriculum that meets required state standards. She attends supplemental public school classes and participates in extra-curricular sporting activities as well.

The child’s parents, divorced in 1999, were in the process of renegotiating the terms of her custody. During this process, Marital Master Michael Garner agreed that the Christian girl is “well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising, and intellectually at or superior to grade level.” Garner’s recommendation continued that “it is clear that home schooling…has more than kept up with the academic requirements of the…public school system.” He reasoned that the child’s “vigorous defense of her religious beliefs to (her) counselor suggests strongly that she has not had the opportunity to seriously consider any other point of view.” Continuing his assessment, Garner proposed that she be ordered into a government-run school, considering “the impact of (her religious) beliefs on her interaction with others.” On July 14, Judge Lucinda V. Sadler approved the recommendation and issued her order.

An Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney has now filed motions with the New Hampshire court asking it to reconsider and stay its decision to send the home schooled girl into public school. According to ADF attorney John Anthony Simmons, the court acknowledged that the girl in question is doing well, but he believes the court overstepped its bounds when they determined the girl’s Christian belief was a “bit too sincerely held and must be sifted, tested by, and mixed among other worldviews.”

Mike Donnelly, staff attorney at the Home School Legal Defense Association, agreed this is “not the place for the courts to be inserting themselves.”

Simmons and the ADF contend that all parents have a “fundamental right to make educational choices for their children.” Simmons asked, “Can anyone imagine a court ordering a child out of a government school and into homeschooling because the child is a ‘rigid’ secularist? Of course not.” He noted. “The court has intruded on the child’s most fundamental liberties and should reconsider this unconstitutional encroachment.” Home Education is an enduring American tradition and right according to the New Hampshire Supreme Court. ADF Senior Legal Counsel Mike Johnson stated, “There is clearly and without question no legitimate legal basis for the court’s decision, and we trust it will reconsider its conclusions.”

Attorney Simmons filed his motions and supporting brief in the case In the matter of Kurowski and Kurowski (Voydatch) with the Family Division of the Judicial Court for Belknap County in Laconia.

Sources:

The Alliance Defense Fund, (26 Aug, 2009). NH court orders. home-schooled child into government-run school. (online). 1 Sep. 2009. www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/2950

Kwon, Lillian. (31 Aug. 2009). Judge Considers ‘Rigid Faith’ Grounds to Order Girl into Public School. (online), 1 Sep. 2009. www.dakotavoice.com/2009/08/judge-considers-rigid-faith-grounds-to-order-girl-into-public-school/