Home Schoolers Banned in Calvert County

Calvert County, MD bans the use of a county building by home-schooled students on the grounds that such instruction, though open to the public, would duplicate county services and waste taxpayer dollars.

Activities Banned From Community Center: Alcohol, Crime… and Home Schooling?

You can take a foreign language class at community centers in Calvert County, Maryland. You can play ultra-violent fantasy wargames, possibly even ones based on pagan beliefs. You can even participate in Bible study classes. But Lydia Goulart and Kyle Travers have found out the hard way that you can’t teach a class in fiber arts or host a geography club there if your lessons happen to be in conjunction with home schooling.

In Calvert County, using a county building to “home school” children ranks among prohibited activities like alcohol use, criminal acts or hosting for-profit events. According to county officials, allowing home schooling parents to use public facilities for their classes and extracurricular activities would be a waste of taxpayer money because it would create “duplicate services” already provided by the public schools. This decision stands despite the fact that Goulart and Travers planned on opening their activities to the public and sought to utilize rooms that otherwise were empty.

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, arguing Calvert County officials violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the law. The court ruled against Goulart and Travers, allowing the ban on homeschooling activities to continue. HSLDA appealed the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia. On September 26, 2003, the Fourth Circuit Appeals Court overturned the District Court, affirming that teaching the young is protected under the First Amendment. However, the court also held that the Community Center had not violated the rights of the homeschoolers by excluding them from the facilities. HSLDA decided not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sources: The Home School Legal Defense Association, The Daily Record (Baltimore, Maryland) (September 29, 2003)

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