Justices Decline to Hear Pa. Home-Schoolers’ Case

By Mark Walsh — January 21, 2009 1 min read

The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear the appeals of several families in a challenge to Pennsylvania’s record-keeping requirements for home-schooled children.

The justices declined without comment to review an August ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, in Philadelphia, that the state’s reporting requirements do not violate the families’ First Amendment right of free exercise of religion.

Under state law, parents who home school their children must provide instruction for a minimum number of days and hours in certain subjects and must submit a portfolio of teaching logs and the children’s work product for review by the local school district. The families had sought exemptions to the reporting requirements, saying they interfered with their sincerely held Christian religious beliefs and parental control of their children’s education.

In its Aug. 21 opinion, the 3rd Circuit court said parents have a general right to control the education of their children, but they “do not have a constitutional right to avoid reasonable state regulation of their children’s education. [The state law’s] reporting and superintendent-review requirements ensure children taught in home education programs demonstrate progress in the educational program.”

The families’ Supreme Court appeal was Combs v. Homer-Center School District (Case No. 08-664).

A version of this news article first appeared in The School Law Blog.