Have you heard about this? What are your thoughts?
As a homeschooler, it's nice to have support groups and co-ops where the children can get together with other homeschooled children and interact. After all, the Number 1 question a new homeschooling parent is asked by concerned onlookers is: "Aren't you worried about socialization?" So, having the freedom to homeschoolprivately while connecting with homeschool support groups on occasion is ideal. In the St. Louis area, there are numerous support groups across the region in which to take part. If you are looking to join a support group or co-op, the St. Louis Homeschool blog is a great place to start.
But, what happens when a member of that group gets offended? Could your innocent little homeschool group be sued? This has happened in the state of Indiana. And, it didn't stop with the mother feeling left out or hurt. She brought her case, on behalf of her daughter, to court and it goes on trial tomorrow morning.
On Wednesday, September 29, attorneys from theThomas More Society will go before an Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC) administrative law judge to defend charges against a Catholic homeschooling group. The alleged charges say that the group engaged in "disability discrimination" and "retaliation" in violation of their state's civil rights laws. The Thomas more Society is a national non-profit public interest law firm based out of Chicago. Their mission is to restore respect for life in law. The Thomas More Society exists solely on donations.
The Indiana-based Catholic homeschool group called Fishers Catholic Enrichment Society (FACES) existed in an effort to bring Catholic homeschooled children together for support and encouragement. So, how does a group of 11 homeschooling families end up on trial? It started during a banquet. It started during a disagreement over a simple menu choice and has left the small group of homeschoolers to disband.
One of the members of FACES reportedly had a food allergy. According to the Thomas More Society:
her daughter was not permitted to eat a steak dinner at the group’s 2008 All Souls Day Ball. The complaining mother initially had agreed with FACES leaders to bring an allergy-free meal to the Ball for her teen, but then later requested that FACES provide her daughter a steak dinner instead of the buffet chicken dinner served to other event attendees.
Later, the complainant’s family was dismissed from the group for repeated rule violations, and the mother then complained that the dismissal was in retaliation for her filing the initial discrimination complaint.
The Thomas More Society will adduce evidence that the mothers of FACES believed in good faith that the home-cooked allergy-free meal would be safest for the teen. Moreover, they intend to prove that the complaining mother repeatedly flouted FACES’ rules, policies and directives, thereby undermining and precluding the group’s ongoing activities.
According to Peter Breen, the executive director and legal counsel at the Thomas More Society, “invoking the sovereign power of the State of Indiana against a group of 11 homeschooling families over a menu disagreement is an unwarranted and abusive misapplication of the civil rights laws.” Breen continued by saying, “It has to be noted that the mother who filed these charges against FACES has also accused the ICRC investigator of not being ‘fair and impartial,’ accused the ICRC’s administrative law judge of bias, and even tried to have him removed from the case, not to mention her personal attacks on other mothers of FACES and Thomas More Society attorneys. Regrettably, this case epitomizes the huge risks bound up with misusing civil rights laws to settle the personal quarrels that arise within any number of small volunteer groups, from parents running a Boy Scout troop to neighbors setting up a block party.”