Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » YOU MAKE THE CALL

    Filed at 5:22 am under by dcobranchi

    Mike Farris:

    I litigated the case that history may judge to be a turning point in parents’ rights. Mozert v. Hawkins County Public Schools (1987) was touted by the media as the “Scopes II” trial. Not only was Mozert tried in Tennessee, but it involved evolution, religion, and a cloud of media onlookers. Attorney Timothy Dyk, now a federal judge appointed by Bill Clinton, was hired by People for the American Way to defend the school district. Beverly LaHaye’s Concerned Women for America employed me as their general counsel to represent the parents whose children had been expelled from the Hawkins County Public Schools.

    Why were these children expelled? They refused to read a series of reading books that violated their religious beliefs.

    The court

    In November 1983 the Hawkins County School Board voted unanimously to eliminate all alternative reading programs and require every student in the public schools to attend classes using the Holt series. Thereafter the plaintiff students refused to read the Holt series or attend reading classes where the series was being used. The children of several of the plaintiffs were suspended for brief periods for this refusal. Most of the plaintiff students were ultimately taught at home, or attended religious schools, or transferred to public schools outside Hawkins County. One student returned to school because his family was unable to afford alternate schooling. Even after the board’s order, two students were allowed some accommodation, in that the teacher either excused them from reading the Holt stories, or specifically noted on worksheets that the student was not required to believe the stories.

    Mike Farris– Liar or merely confused?

    UPDATE: I wonder if Mike has bothered to re-read the Appeals Court opinion. This part seems pretty cut & dried:

    As if to emphasize the narrowness of its holding because of the unique 300 year history of the Old Amish Order, the Court wrote:

    It is one thing to say that compulsory education for a year or two beyond the eight grade may be necessary when its goal is the preparation of the child for life in modern society as the majority live, but it is quite another if the goal of education be viewed as the preparation of the child for life in the separated agrarian community that is the keystone of the Amish faith.

    Id. at 222 (citation omitted). This statement points up dramatically the difference between Yoder and the present case. The parents in Yoder were required to send their children to some school that prepared them for life in the outside world, or face official sanctions. The parents in the present case want their children to acquire all the skills required to live in modern society. They also want to have them excused from exposure to some ideas they find offensive. Tennessee offers two options to accommodate this latter desire. The plaintiff parents can either send their children to church schools or private schools, as many of them have done, or teach them at home. Tennessee law prohibits any state interference in the education process of church schools:

    The state board of education and local boards of education are prohibited from regulating the selection of faculty or textbooks or the establishment of a curriculum in church-related schools.

    TCA 49-50-801(b). Similarly the statute permitting home schooling by parents or other teachers prescribes nothing with respect to curriculum or the content of class work.

    So, the court believes that merely being exposed to an idea is not an undue burden on Free Exercise rights because the state provides for ways to prevent that exposure (i.e., homeschooling or private schooling). Sounds right to me.

    And this is Farris’ cite as evidence for the War on Parents?

    If this is the best that the Parents’ Rights Amendment’s brightest light can come up with, I’ll lay 100:1 odds that this never makes it out of the Senate.

    One Response to “YOU MAKE THE CALL”

    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    July 29th, 2006
    at 7:49 am

    There’s a big difference between expulsion and a short suspension. Farris surely knows the facts of the case (he was, after all, one of the attorneys). So, the question– Was he merely sloppy in his language, or did he intentionally use a loaded (though inapt) description to scare the sheeple rally the troops?