Pa. Reporting Requirements for Home-Schoolers Upheld
Pennsylvania's record-keeping requirements for home-schoolers do not violate families' free-exercise-of-religion rights under the U.S. Constitution, a federal appeals court ruled today.
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, in Philadelphia, unanimously rejected a First Amendment challenge by six home-schooling families who argued that the requirements infringe on their sincerely held Christian religious beliefs.
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 parental control of their children's education.
In its opinion in Combs v. Homer-Center School District, the 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 court did remand the case to the state courts for consideration of whether the reporting requirements conflict with a state law known as the Religious Freedom Protection Act.