(Purcellville, VA) The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled today in favor of a divorced father who wanted his previously homeschooled daughter enrolled in public school. In the contentious case, Matter of Kurowski, the court confined itself to the facts and circumstances of the case holding that the trial court did not exceed its "discretion" when it ordered the homeschooled girl into public school.
In its opinion, the Court found that there was "an objective basis sufficient to sustain the trial court’s discretionary judgment." However, the Court stated that it was NOT giving an opinion as to which form of education among public, private, or homeschooling is "most suitable" for children. The Court also recognized that "in recent years home schooling has become a widely used alternative to more traditional public or private schools. . . ."
HSLDA disagrees with the Supreme Court’s ruling in this case and had filed an amicus brief in support of the mother who was being represented by ADF allied attorney John Anthony Simmons. HSLDA became involved because the lower court’s ruling could have been read to create precedent in favor of public education over homeschooling. The Court flatly rejected that the lower ruling created any such precedent and HSLDA will oppose any efforts to wrongly use the case beyond its limited scope.
The court recognized that fit parents have a fundamental right to direct the education and upbringing of their children. Citing a string of United States Supreme Court cases the court noted, however, as between two divorced parents who share identical rights, courts have the difficult role of making "difficult and sensitive decisions in a highly contentious atmosphere." HSLDA’s attorney for Member Affairs in NH, Michael Donnelly, who as a NH licensed attorney submitted the amicus brief, noted that he was disappointed but not surprised by the court’s ruling.
"We are disappointed that this young girl is being forced to attend a public school over her mother’s, and reportedly her own, wishes," Donnelly said. "However, the NH Supreme Court confined its ruling to this case and these facts avoiding any collateral impact on the rights of other parents in New Hampshire who homeschool their children. While the lower court’s decision could have been read to create a presumption in favor of public education over homeschooling, the court emphatically rejected this notion."