COLLEGE, PUBLIC SCHOOL & HOME SCHOOL
This webpage contains SCHOOL-HOMESCHOOLING court cases involving/affecting Children of Jehovah's Witnesses and their JW Parents. If you are looking for court cases involving adult Jehovah's Witnesses who are employed as School Teachers or School Employees, then click to go to our JEHOVAH'S WITNESS SCHOOL TEACHERS - EMPLOYEES webpage available at our JW EMPLOYEES website.
IN RE JOSHUA MARTIN was an extremely interesting 1992-3 series of Colorado court cases which pitted a 14-16 year old Jehovah's Witness Child against his two Jehovah's Witnesses Parents. In this case, the Jehovah's Witness Parents, with the advice and assistance of an unidentified Jehovah's Witness Attorney, made arguments which were the EXACT OPPOSITE of the arguments which Jehovah's Witnesses typically make when they are attempting to convince Courts to allow their teenaged Children to die in so-called "Mature Minor" blood transfusions cases. Readers interested in this Court Case should not leave this website before first reading the webpage devoted to the "Mature Minor" issue.
What were these JW Parents and JW Teenager fighting about? THE BOY WANTED TO GO TO HIGH SCHOOL!!! And, his Jehovah's Witnesses parents did not want him to do so. The problems in Joshua Martin's Westcliffe, Colorado home started sometime around the time Joshua was conceived/born, when his mother, "Jackie", started studying with and eventually converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses. After years of effort, Jackie finally succeeded in converting her husband, Gary, when Joshua was in junior high. Although Gary Martin took longer to convert into the Jehovah's Witnesses, when he finally did convert, Gary Martin devoutly obeyed the dictates of the WatchTower Society -- particularly with regard to child rearing. Gary Martin told reporters:
"We put our trust in God's word, the Bible. ... If the Bible is inspired of Almighty God, it's important for parents -- today or 2,000 years ago -- to try to bring their children up in the discipline and mental regulation of the Almighty Creator. ... We don't take the viewpoint of a lot of religious extremists who take things out of there [Bible] and misconstrue them."
So, how did Gary and Jackie Martin "construe the Bible"? In Joshua Martin's freshman year of High School, Gary Martin started trying to keep Joshua from associating with schoolmates of other religions, including limiting Joshua's after-school activities. There was one little problem. No other Jehovah's Witness youths lived in Westcliffe. Joshua stated that he was rarely allowed out of the Martin house, and the friends Joshua had had for years were turned away from the Martins' front door. Gary Martin explained:
"... other children, if their moral values are not the moral values we're trying to teach our children, we've got to be cautious. ... It's not that we tried to eliminate Josh from ever having contact with any other child, because that's not the truth. There are many other children we exposed him to."
Gary Martin even demanded that Joshua quit the school basketball team. Gary Martin explained to a reporter that:
"... activities such as entertainment and sports are of this world and controlled by the devil. ... The lionizing of sports heroes comes close to idolatry. ... Josh, at one point, I'd have to say, he was idolizing Michael Jordan."
One of the times that Joshua Martin was allowed to see his old friends was when his parents and he went door-to-door in Wickliffe seeking other WatchTower converts. Joshua explained that he disliked preaching door-to-door, but he obeyed his parents in hopes that they would then allow him to play on the basketball team.
Joshua Martin ended up running away from home for a weekend. Gary Martin countered by taking Joshua out of Custer County High School in Fall 1991, and requiring Joshua to home-school. The events and time-line are not clear, but apparently Joshua ran away from home several more times. Joshua reportedly spent much of the next few months in 1992 on the street, sleeping in parks, the post office, or the homes of friends and relatives around the state. Joshua eventually moved in with an uncle who lives in Lakewood, and he enrolled for the Sophomore year at Green Mountain High School. In Fall 1992, reportedly in an effort to woo his son, Gary Martin agreed to let Joshua play basketball for Custer County High School, if Joshua would attend all five weekly meetings at a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. Joshua complied, but with his basketball teammates rushing him from the Kingdom Hall in Canon City to whereever the games were. However, one night at the end of the season, Joshua went out with his friends, and the feud with his parents re-ignited.
At some point, Joshua Martin sought the advice and help of attorneys, and evidently eventually sought Colorado's version of a legal separation from his parents. Various legal and judicial manueverings eventually culminated in an eight-hour hearing before a Judge in April 1993. Three attorneys represented Joshua Martin. Gary and Jackie Martin "technically" represented themselves, but they reportedly acted with the advice and assistance of an unidentified Jehovah's Witness attorney.
Reportedly, Joshua's attorneys argued that Joshua, although only 15 years-old, was intelligent, and especially mature and responsible for his age; and that even 15 year-olds have the right to religious freedom. Although testimony and evidence from the hearing is not available, a media article reported that various school officials noted that Joshua was a good student who earned good grades; that they were frustrated with his situation with his parents; and that Joshua was welcomed in their school at any time.
Apparently the Martins, as advised by their Jehovah's Witness attorney, must have presented the exact opposite arguments they typically make when they are attempting to convince Courts to allow their teenaged Children to die in so-called "Mature Minor" blood transfusions cases, because the Colorado Court ruled in their favor. Gary and Jackie Martin retained custody of Joshua. The Court ruled that a child cannot be taken from his natural parents where there is no evidence of physical abuse.
There was possibly an appeal, since two court hearings were reported. However, Joshua reportedly returned to live with his Uncle in Lakewood with his parent's consent, and he reportedly attended Green Mountain High School in Spring 1993. In addition to his regular classes, Joshua also had to study math at home to catch up on what he missed when he was out of school, so that he could take calculus in his senior year given that Joshua Martin's ambition was to go to college and study computer science. Joshua stated to a reporter: "If you don't have an education, you'll be stuck with a minimum-wage job, and that's not where I want to be." Hopefully, Joshua Martin was able to attend college and study whatever he wanted at the time. I pray his life has turned out positively.
CZECH REPUBLIC v. CZECH JW PARENTS was a 2009 Czech criminal prosecution of JEHOVAH'S WITNESS PARENTS who had KICKED OUT OF THEIR HOME their 18 year-old daughter, because that daughter had refused to be baptized as a Jehovah's Witness. Those JW Parents also told their daughter that if she agreed to be baptized that she could return home.
That "very smart" 18 year-old secondary-school student apparently reported her JW Parents' ABUSE and EXTORTION to the local police in her home town of Zlin, South Moravia. The local Prosecutor decided to charge the JW Parents with violation of a Czech criminal law, which media translated into English as, "Oppression", which under Czech law is defined as when a Perpetrator abuses someone else's dependence or emergency situation to force him/her to do something the Perpetrator wants them to do. Although the JW Parents' daughter had reached the age of majority in the Czech Republic -- 18 years-old -- she was a student in secondary school, and apparently, she had never held a job. Thus, her JW Parents abandoned their daughter without any financial means of support.
Although the outcome of this prosecution is not known, our best guess is that once the JW Parents were arrested and their prosecution hit the international news, the JW Parents had a sudden change of heart. Children of JW Parents around the globe, especially those in the United States, who find themselves in the same/similar dilemna should use this scenario as an excellent lesson as to how to deal with their JW Parents who are BLACKMAILING THEM to be baptized as a Jehovah's Witness. Especially note that this "very smart" 18 year-old apparently gave her JW Parents NO OTHER REASON OR REASONS by which they could excuse their kicking their child out of their home. If an unimaginative local prosecutor attempts todismiss such a complaint as being nothing that he can do due to the complaintant's age, that lazy prosecutor should be reminded that modern society has a significant interest in not forcing taxpayers to provide such victims with food stamps, welfare, and other social assistance. We suspect that state social service agencies and especially the local newspaper will also take some interest in such an abusive scenario.
IN RE DOE and IN RE ROE were related 1975 Washington state court cases. Although not school-related, I am placing this summary here since these cases also involved a situation where two children attempted to "divorce" themselves from their Jehovah's Witness Parent because of WatchTower religious beliefs and practices. Keeping in mind that the WatchTower Society had predicted that Armageddon would occur in October 1975, or soon thereafter, in 1975, two Washington state female Minors, ages 12 and 16, petitioned Juvenile Court to remove them from their mother's home, because they refused to convert to the WatchTower religion as had their mother. This decision was apparently not forced on them by outside parties given that there were no relatives to take them into their homes. The older girl was placed in a foster home, and the younger girl was placed into a state facility pending placement into a foster home. The two girls apparently had ran away from home, and absolutely refused to return so long as their mother tried to force them to convert. Outcome unknown.
IN RE CHRISTY BROWN is yet another situation where a child of Jehovah's Witness Parents attempted to "divorce" themselves from their Jehovah's Witness Parents because of WatchTower religious beliefs and practices. In 1987, 15 year-old Christy Brown, of Des Moines, Iowa, was disfellowshipped from her family's Des Moines Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses due to "rebelliousness". Brown alleged that she was disfellowshiped for wearing makeup, wearing fashionable clothes, and listening to Michael Jackson music. Brown further claimed that as a result of her being disfellowshipped from her family's Des Moines Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses that her JW Parents instituted multiple ridiculous punishments, including making her wear the same green dress for six straight weeks. In response, Brown obtained her own personal attorney, and filed legal action to remove herself from her JW parents' custody. Outcome unnknown.
KARMA ALERT!!! In December 1994, a 17 year-old African-American Jehovah's Witness, named Michael Allen Johnson, was shot in the back and killed while walking home from his part-time job after he refused to surrender his "athletics jacket" to three neighbor-hood-rats. Johnson was eulogized by an Elder at his Edgewood Terrace Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses as a devoted Jehovah's Witness who spent 16 hours a month going door-to-door.
TEXAS v. MICHAEL ALLEN JOHNSON. In November 1989, then 12 year-old Michael Allen Johnson was accused of stabbing to death 24 year-old teacher, Jana Simpson, at Glen Park Elementary. It was the teacher's first day on the job at this school, which had not yet started classes, and she was stabbed 17 times just outside her mobile home classroom. Simpson's purse went untouched, which left few motives for the attack. Police initially were drawn to Johnson as a potential witness, but after what was later described as unlawful threats and coercion, Johnson admitted to killing the teacher after she discovered Johnson prowling the school grounds. Johnson later passed several polygraphs in which he retracted the confession and denied the murder. Most of the confession was not admitted at trial, and the jury adquitted Johnson in only 40 minutes. Johnson was the only suspect, and since no murder weapon was found, noone else was ever prosecuted for the murder.
Excerpt from Back in the Seventh Grade ... Again! by G. E. Hicks. Hicks, a middle school Principal, studied twelve retained North Carolina 7th grade students required to repeat the 7th grade in Hicks' attempt to examine why middle school students who consistently passed state-mandated tests did poorly in school and thus had to repeat their grade. Hicks published his findings in this 2004 doctoral dissertation:
The most emphatic and animated of the group, Courtney has strong opinions about life and how people should treat each other. Wearing a skirt that covered her knees, she was the only participant wearing glasses. Courtney quickly, almost defensively, professed her Christian faith and indicated that it was her faith that caused her to dress the way she did. Courtney also said that she believed it was her dress and faith that caused her to be picked on by others. Academically, Courtney’s sixth grade year mirrored her elementary experience, where she made mostly C’s while barely passing EOG tests. In the seventh grade, however, Courtney’s grades were mostly D’s and F’s. Although she passed her EOG’s (low III’s) and attended summer school, Courtney was still retained. The shortest girl, this thirteen-year-old African American female on reduced lunch, was one of the more immature acting of the group. She often interrupted others in the focus group with her overly expressive comments. With eyes wide, head weaving, and hands on hips, Courtney would focus her anxiety on the boys in the group, trying to get them to notice her, whether positively or negatively. ...
Courtney’s teachers call her "very religious." According to the teachers, the family attends the Jehovah’s Witness church. The girls in the family always wear skirts, no pants. The mother is very diligent in attending conferences. Courtney is considered by her teachers to perform in the low average range, needing lots of practice and sustained focus. One teacher stated that Courtney is considered to have a "victim mentality," and often uses race as an excuse for any perceived injustice. Another teacher said that Courtney lacked basic skills and knowledge and should not have been promoted last year. Courtney, by her teacher’s reports, did little work last year and did not get along well with others.
Reading about "Courney's" lack of basic skills and knowledge and victim mentality reminded me of a field service car group conversation that occurred back in 1997. The car group was composed of myself, an unemployed 20 year-old male African-American Pioneer and son of an Elder, a male 20s Hispanic publisher, and a then 19 year-old male caucasian Pioneer Son of a MS. (In 2007, this Zionsville, Indiana now-Elder's Son and former JW Pioneer did jail time in Florida for passing a bad check.) The 20 year-old African-American Elder's Son-Pioneer let the car-group know that he had been a "victim" of racial discrimination earlier that week when he had applied for part-time employment as a Salesperson at one Indianapolis's well-advertised Home Improvement companies. Unemployed African-American Pioneer related how everyone at the Company's office was "white", and how arrogant and dismissive the "racist" recruiter had been toward his door-to-door "sales" experience, his "construction" experience working with the Regional Building Committee for the prior year or so, his never having held a fulltime job, his relevant prior part-time work experience as a Red Lobster waiter, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. Unknown to Unemployed 20 year-old African-American Elder's Son-Pioneer was the fact that this company was one of my clients. Salespersons for this Home Improvement Company were required to have the construction knowledge and experience to be able to go into any home in the city and be able to completely assess cause-effect of the homeowner's problem, write an accurate estimate for all materials and labor needed to remedy the homeowner's problems, sell the contract and obtain payment, or obtain a downpayment and/or financing application, etc. The Company advertised that "part-time" employment was available in the hope that such would attract construction-experienced and construction-knowledgable retirees who were looking for something to do to keep themselves active. Salespersons specifically had to be readily available for weeknight and weekend appointments. Yeh, this know-nothing, done-nothing JW would have been perfect for this position if only he was "white".
JW Kids -- Go to school. Stay in school. Work as hard as possible. Get as much education as possible. Bad attitude begets bad attitude. If you are being "persecuted", try to honestly assess whether you are "advertising" for the negative attention, and if so, eliminate that behavior. This world is already overflowing with 40 year-old persecuted losers with perpetual bad attitudes. If that is how you live your teen years, you will most likely live as such for the rest of your miserable life. Oh, by the way, Jehovah's Witnesses are NOT the smartest, most knowledgable people on the planet, and neither are you!
From Jehovah's Witness Elder To JESUS CHRIST!
Alan John Miller was born in South Australia, in 1963, to devout Jehovah's Witness Parents, Alan and Maxine Miller. A. J. Miller spent his formative years in quite a mentally disturbing environment. In 1966-67, when Miller was about 4 years-old, the WatchTower Society began to teach that Jesus Christ would return to Earth in October 1975 to rid the planet of all evil (all non-JWs) in the Battle of Armageddon. Typical of nearly all Jehovah's Witness families during that time period, every spare moment was spent preaching door-to-door to warn the general public of their impending doom if they refused to convert to the Jehovah's Witnesses. The WatchTower Society taught its Jehovah's Witness members that they would be held accountable by Jehovah God (i.e., "bloodguilty") for any lives destroyed because of their failure to have warn such ones.
Alan John Miller is reported to have been a "shy, deeply spiritual teenager who came out of his shell only when discussing Jehovah's Witness theology". Typical of children reared by Jehovah's Witness Parents, Alan and his sister, Jenni Miller, not only sacrificed most of their spare time to the activities of the WatchTower Cult, but they reportedly also sacrificed engaging in many of the formative activities in which other children of their ages participated.
October 1975 came and went without any sign of the return of Jesus Christ, and Jehovah's Witnesses around the world were once again forced to deal mentally with yet another second adventist "Great Disappointment". Many adult Jehovah's Witnesses mentally struggled greatly with such. One can only imagine the psychological impact on a 13 year-old whom had known nothing else but the impending doom of most of mankind.
After October 1975, the WatchTower Society told its Jehovah's Witness members that the calculated end of mankind's 6000th anniversary on earth had been accurate, and that Jesus Christ would return at any moment. Instead of slowing down, Jehovah's Witnesses should speed-up their door-knocking, and take full advantgage of these unexpected additional days to warn people of their impending doom. At some point, Alan John Miller reportedly applied for and was approved as a Jehovah's Witness "Pioneer" (WatchTower Society term for a full-time proselytiser).
At some point during his teenage years, all this S**T apparently began to wear on young A. J. Miller, since it has been reported that Miller's JW Parents eventually had to seek some sort of mental health treatment for their teenage son. In 1979, at the age of 17, the highly intelligent Alan John Miller discontinued his high school studies and started studying computer science at a local community college. Afterwards, Miller started his own IT consulting business.
Still a devout Jehovah's Witness, around 1983, Alan John Miller married a fellow Jehovah's Witness -- 19-year-old Sheree Newman. The Jehovah's Witness couple eventually had two sons. During this same time period, A. J. Miller was first promoted to a "Ministerial Servant" (deacon) within his Jehovah's Witness congregation, and eventually Miller was promoted to being an "Elder" (minister) in his congregation. Sometime in the latter 1990s, Miller's lifelong odyssey in the WatchTower Cult ended when Miller supposedly became involved with another female, and he allegedly was "disfellowshipped".
Starting around 2004, A. J. Miller began proclaiming himself to be the reincarnated "Jesus Christ". Since then, Miller has reportedly developed his own cult with its own beliefs and practices -- some of which are loosely based on his previous WatchTower beliefs (anti-trinitarianism and forecasting apocryphal dates) -- and has attracted quite a following of financial supporters. Miller also has been accused of having a series of mistresses -- each of whom Miller has claimed to be the reincarnated "Mary Magdalene".
COLE v. COLE was a circa 1985 Georgia custody court decision. Maurice Cole and Mary Cole, of Rockdale County, Georgia, had divorced sometime in the early 1980s. Thereafter, Mary Cole converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses, and per WatchTower teachings that discourage JW Children from participating in school sports programs, Mary Cole told her son, Rod Cole, whom she had physical custody, that he could no longer play on his high school basketball team. Maurice Cole then went to court, and sought and obtained custody of Rod, and moved back from Dekalb County, so that Rod could continue playing for Rockdale County. After high school, Rod Cole went on to star as a guard for the University of Georgia Bulldogs from 1987-1991.
EON CHONTAY WALDEN v. MODESTO CITY SCHOOLS was a "settled" 2004-7 California federal lawsuit, in which a family of African-American Jehovah's Witnesses accused 104 teachers and other school officials of both racial and religious discrimination. In 2007, the school system paid $30,000.00 to make the lawsuit go away. The two Plaintiffs were Eon C. Walden and Corey Victor, through his guardian ad litem, Jumoke Walden. Corey Victor was a "Special Education" student, who attended Sonoma Elementary School from kindergarten through fourth grade. Eon Walden is Corey Victor’s maternal grandmother, and allegedly Cory's "authorized caregiver". Eon Walden also claimed to be an "ordained minister" in the Jehovah’s Witness religion. I don't know how or even if "Jumoke Walden" is related to Corey Victor.
The 104 Defendants were Jane Moffett, principal of Sonoma Elementary School; Marie Lagos, teacher at Sonoma Elementary School; James Enochs, Superintendent of Modesto City Schools; Jim Pfaff, Assistant Superintendent of Modesto City Schools; and 100 other unnamed school officials. In part, the Walden family's lawsuit claimed:
"22. Plaintiffs allege the Defendants have violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by encouraging, entrenching and subsidizing acts and omissions on the part of the Anglo-American Modesto City School teachers, officials and students that resulted in racial discrimination against the Plaintiffs.
"23. Plaintiffs contend Defendants’ flagrant disregard for Federal law, resulted in racially based physical and psychological victimizations of the Plaintiffs. During one victimization, an older Anglo-American student assaulted Plaintiff Victor so severely that Plaintiff Victor’s clothing was totally destroyed during the physical attack.
"24. Although Plaintiffs demanded and received monetary compensation from Modesto City School officials for Plaintiff Victor’s destroyed personal property, Plaintiffs contend Modesto City School officials failed to take disciplinary action against the older Anglo-American aggressor.
"25. Plaintiffs contend District sanctioned victimization of this kind are racially based and denote racial inferiority on the part of African-American students, and that said denotation results in racial discrimination against African-American students and parents.
"26. Plaintiffs further contend this racial denotation denied Plaintiff Victor the right to attend school in a racially friendly educational environment and discouraged Plaintiff Victor from the enjoyment, service, aid and benefit of Modesto City School facilities and programs.
The Walden family's lawsuit claimed more specifically, in part:
"... Plaintiffs met with Defendant Jane Moffett many times to discuss Plaintiff Victor’s victimizations. ... Plaintiffs called officers of the City of Modesto Police Department to Sonoma Elementary School several times in an attempt at putting an end to the physical abuse, Plaintiffs appeared before the Modesto City School Board numerous times to voice their grievances, Plaintiffs provided the Modesto City School Board with a written statement of their complaints, and Plaintiffs requested a hearing with Modesto City School officials to voice their grievances.
"On December 19, 2003, Plaintiffs received the District’s response to their complaints. Plaintiffs were appalled their weightier claims of physical abuse and assault upon Plaintiff Victor, and the Districts [sic] failure to provide special education Plaintiff Victor with a FAPE [FREE APPROPRIATE PUBLIC EDUCATION] were not addressed in the District’s response. Dissatisfied with District findings, ... Plaintiffs forwarded several written correspondences to Superintendent of Public Instruction, James Enochs in an attempt at further mediation.
"The Superintendent of Public Instruction failed to respond to even one of Plaintiffs’ correspondences. Therefore, on January 2, 2004, Plaintiffs forwarded a written appeal to the California Department of Education. ... Plaintiffs did not receive a response from the California Department of Education until mid June 2004, by which time Plaintiffs concluded they were not benefiting [sic] from the ‘administrative process’ and had already removed themselves from the Modesto City School District."
Persons having a more-than-routine interest in this lawsuit might want to do further research on the named parties in the records of the Stanislaus County Courts
in California, as well as the various courts in the Atlanta, Georgia area during the early 1990s. It is unknown if the parties named in the criminal cases found in those jurisdictions are any of the same individuals, but interestingly, a person with the exact same name as one of the plaintiffs was themselves once accused of failing to properly care for a baby under their supervision.
BOBRIK v. HIGHLINE SCHOOL DISTRICT was a 1998 Washington State federal court case. This lawsuit was filed by a Jehovah's Witness Father, named Robert Bobrik, of Seattle, Washington, on behalf of his then 13 year-old son, Jim Bobrik, a student at Sylvester Middle School. On February 9, 1998, a confrontation arose between Jim Bobrik and his classroom teacher during the morning recitation of the "Pledge of Allegiance", and Bobrik was told to leave the classroom. According to media reports, Robert Bobrik contacted an attorney as soon as his son told him what had occurred, and a telephoned complaint was made to the school principal, followed by a written complaint. The school reportedly followed up on the issue, and there were no further incidents between Bobrik and the teacher.
However, in March 1998, the Bobriks continued to push the issue, and notified the school district that they would file a federal lawsuit if certain further demands were not met -- including payment of "money damages". According to media reports, the Bobriks also wanted the teacher and the principal disciplined. According to media reports, the Bobriks also demanded that the school district create a special district-wide program which would not only educate teachers and students about First Amendment rights, but would discipline any violators.
The school district reportedly issued a written apology to the Bobriks. However, a federal lawsuit was filed by the Bobriks in April 1998. The Bobriks claimed, and the media repeatedly reported, that Jim Bobrik had been made to stand outside in the rain for 15 minutes. The school district explained that Bobrik stood outside in typical Seattle weather -- under a shelter designed to protect students from the rain. The Bobriks claimed that Jim Bobrik had done nothing that morning but what he had done for years during the morning recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance -- stand quietly while the other students recited the Pledge.
However, the school district alleged that Jim Bobrik had been "disrespectful" that particular morning -- but did not fully explain the accusation. The school explained that it already had an existing policy that did not even require students to stand during the recitation of the Pledge, which Bobrik had done. All the school required was for dissenters to remain quiet while other students recited the Pledge. There are some "hints" in the various media reports that this was the first day of class shared by Bobrik and the teacher in question, and that when the teacher confronted Bobrik about "whatever" conduct caught the teacher's attention that Bobrik may not have respectfully presented his "case", and may not have even told the teacher that his conduct was due to his religious beliefs.
The lawsuit was apparently settled out of court, so what actually occurred that day will never be known. Nor is it known how much the school district may have paid to make this nuisance lawsuit go away. Click HERE
to read another Robert Bobrik federal lawsuit.
SCOTT FINNEY, BERNADETTE FINNEY, AND SCARLETT FINNEY v. THE HILLS GRAMMAR SCHOOL was a 1997-99 Australia Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission disability discrimination case brought by Jehovah's Witness Parents of a four year-old child with spina bifada, who had been denied admission to Kindergarten at a private school. This case was yet another typical disability discrimination case which resulted from governmental legislation requiring private institutions to essentially "drop everything they were doing" and kowtow to the needs of a single disabled individual no matter the expense to the institution, nor the detriment caused to the hundreds of others, included other disabled persons, served by the institution.
The Hills Grammar School was a private, not-for-profit, K-12 school that was located in quite a unique environmental setting -- rustic, or "bushland", and on a hillside. There were multiple classroom buildings scattered across a 25 acre campus -- many of which were multi-stories, and many built into the hillside. Most paved walkways between buildings include multiple series of steps, but there were also winding, indirect unpaved paths and driveways, both of which included steep inclines/declines. The name of this school was chosen for a reason.
The Hills Grammar School already had a small number of children with mostly emotional and mental disabilities enrolled at the School, but also had a few students with physical disabilites such as sight impairment, hearing impairment, amputated limbs, and cerebral palsy. The school's administration and staff made a reasonable assessment of 4 year-old Scarlett Finney attending the school and came to a reasonable conclusion in not offering admission. Factors included her use of a wheelchair and her catheterization needs. The school also took into consideration not only the present, but also the future based on the assumption that she would continue at the school for some years. Specifically, the school had anticipated that if Finney was admitted to the school that eventually the entire campus would be required to be made wheelchair-accessible at an estimated expense of $1.1 million. Current expenses would include extra training to deal with Finney's issues for all teachers, plus the hiring of one additional staffer simply to assist Finney as a student, plus making the buildings and classrooms used by Finney handicap accessible, and essentially constucting a special restroom to accomodate her catheterization needs.
The Hills Grammar School's budget came 75% from fees paid by student's parents, and 25% from government subsidies. Even with special government grants here and there for Finney's special needs, her admission would still result in excess expenses which would have to be made up by higher fees paid by the other students' parents. In the two years prior to the year that Finney had sought admission, the school had an operating excess that averaged $170,000.00 annually, but that did not include any retirement of the schools $5.4 million DEBT.
The Commission's decision was pre-ordained in our opinion. The Finney's "experts" and the Commission did everything possible to minimize Scarlett Finney's "issues", and maximize the school's unwillingness to accomodate such. In the end, the Commission ruled completely against the school, and totally for the Finneys. Interestingly, after doing so, the Commission then gave school administration the "opportunity" to meet with the winning Jehovah's Witness Parents and seek a "settlement". Given that the school had ZERO bargaining power at that point, the Finney's could have demanded that the name of the school be changed to "Finney's Grammar School". In actuality, the outcome is not in the published decision, thus is unknown.
COMMONWEALTH v. LOUISE TXXXXXX was a 2001 Virginia court case which involved a Richmond, Virginia Jehovah's Witness, named Louise Txxxxx. Louise T. was the African-American grandmother and legal guardian of two children. The extremely one-sided source for this case summary alleges that this Jehovah's Witness GrandMother had fought the Richmond Public School System "for years" to get an adequate education for her two grandchildren (who were barely "years old" themselves) -- without success. So, she finally decided to start home schooling them. The source alleges that Louise told school officials that she was home schooling the two children, but that allegation does not match with their further hint that criminal charges were not filed against Louise by the School System until a Social Worker reported to the School System that the two children were not being sent to school.
When Louise appeared in Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in March 2001, she and her many supporters packed the courtroom. The Presiding Overseer of Louise's Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses was there, as were a number of other Jehovah's Witnesses from around the Richmond area. Karen Mann of NEW SYSTEM SCHOOL INC.
was present to testify on Louise's behalf. New System School, Inc. is a not-for-profit school system formed by Jehovah's Witnesses for Jehovah's Witness families who want an alternative to public school systems for their childrens' education. New System School, Inc. was started in North Carolina in 1980, and incorporated in Missouri in 1985. Associated corporations have since been formed in many states. New System School, Inc.boasts students and faculty in 35 states, and several foreign countries.
It appears that Louise, her supporters, and her attorney were extremely well prepared to answer the arguments presented by the Richmond Public School System, which they also had well anticipated in advance. Scott Somerville, of the Home School Legal Defense Association
, of which New System School, Inc. is believed to be affiliated, was there to defend Louise T. Somerville alleged that Louise had been home schooling the two children all school-year long, and that Louise had enrolled the children in the New System School, Inc., an "umbrella school" with members all over America. It appears from the source material that Somerville first tried to explain that New System School, Inc. operated under the "private school law". Under Virginia law, families could also claim a religious exemption from the compulsory attendance law. However, given that the Judge eventually continued the case so as to give Louise 30-days to submit the proper paperwork to the Court and the Richmond Public School System, it appears that Louise had not complied with as many of the legalities as the source would have readers to believe. Especially interesting is how Somerville and his client dealt with the Virginia law in question, which states:
"A school board shall excuse from attendance at school any pupil who, together with his parents, by reason of bona fide religious training or belief, is conscientiously opposed to attendance at school."
Apparently, in order to continue with the defense that Louise had enrolled the two children at New System School, Inc. prior to the start of the school year; and that Louise had been home schooling the children in accordance with New System School, Inc requirements; and to take advantage of the cited Virginia law; THEN LOUSIE WAS REQUIRED TO SWEAR THAT IT WAS HER CONSCIENTIOUS BELIEF THAT SENDING HER GRANDCHILDREN TO PUBLIC SCHOOL WAS A SIN.
Louise's daughter, the mother of the children, was also present for the hearing, and she testified that she also wanted her children home schooled. Judge Taylor asked her: "Do you understand that your children are being educated by their grandmother for religious reasons? Is that what you want?" She testified: "I do understand. That's what I want!"
After the hearing, Louise reportedly told Attorney Scott Somerville: "I appreciate all you did, but I wouldn't be the person I am if I didn't insist that all the glory for this victory belongs to our great God Jehovah!" Something tells me that Jehovah would just as soon not be connected with that court victory -- assuming it really was a victory, because, interestingly, the source does not tell us if Louise actually provided the required documentation by 4/23/2001, nor does it tell us anything else that happened after the March 23, 2001 hearing.
In 1996, a family of Jehovah's Witnesses Home Schoolers began to be harassed by some nit-picky school official who actually expected compliance with the law. Dennis and Eunice Lincoln of Clinton, Iowa, had several children with various "special needs". Reading between the lines of the again one-sided source, it appears that these Jehovah's Witness Parents began home schooling their children without meeting all the necessary legal requirements. It appears that when the local public school system eventually discovered that the Lincoln children were not attending public school, that some sort of agreement was reached with the Lincolns to allow them to continue (or maybe start) homeschooling, and do so per legal requirements.
The Lincolns were supposed to have had their home education program approved by the Special Education Director of the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency prior to the start of the 1995-6 school year. Since the 1995-6 school year was well into the Spring semester, the Lincolns were permitted to continue, but they were supposed to submit weekly reports, including lesson plans and samples of their children's work. When the Lincolns failed to submit any samples of the children's work, the Special Education Director informed them that would not approve "any" home education program for the following 1996-97 school year.
Enter Home School Legal Defense Association attorney Scott Somerville to the rescue. Somerville threatened the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency that if it did not approve a compliant home education program for the Lincoln family for the following 1996-97 school year, then he would file a lawsuit for damages under the then still alive, Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). My guess is that Somerville's threat worked. I don't know, because, again, the source fails to disclose the final result, or provide any further details beyond the point where it "appears" the JWs won.
IN RE CHRISTY ANN S. was a 1995-6 Overland County, Tennesee "juvenile court" case which involved a family of Jehovah's Witness Home Schoolers, who apparently intentionally disobeyed the home schooling law as it then existed in Tennessee, with regard to their 10th grader daughter. Apparently, then Tennessee law required a home school teacher to have a bachelor's degree, which Christy Ann's mother (presumed the teacher) did not. As an alternative, however, then Tennessee law did provide that non-degreed parents could home school their children if they were affiliated with a "church-related school" which met the standards for accreditation and membership in one of six private associations that were listed in the statute. As Jehovah's Witnesses, whose beliefs are not consistent with any other orthodox religion, and whose beliefs prohibit any official affiliation with any other religious organization, this JW Family refused to join any one of the six sanctioned religious associations. Rather than obeying Tennessee law, and foregoing home schooling, this JW Family simply decided to disobey the law.
Note that this was a "juvenile court" case, which means that the party involved was Christy herself -- a 15-16 year-old teenager. Whether there was another court case involving the parents, I do not know, because the one-sided source provided information on this case only. Apparently, under then Tennessee law, the Board of Education had few options under which to legally enforce school attendance. Thus, the BoE was probably forced to prosecute Christy under the only "truancy" statute available simply to get the home school issue addressed.
Enter the Home School Legal Defense Association to the rescue. The then Tennessee truancy law under which Christy had been charged was apparently one of those antiquated state laws that had not been updated since before the Flood. Under that truancy law, Christy was labeled an "unruly" or "delinquent" child, which apparently was defined under that law as a child who failed to obey their parents. Obviously, Christy was neither an "unruly" nor "delinquent" child, de facto nor de jure. In fact, Christy had done exactly what her parents told her to do. The Judge dismissed this January 1996 case. Interestingly, in March 1996, Tennessee added the Tennessee Association of Church-Related Schools
(TACRS) to the list of organizations which give legal status to church-related schools in Tennessee. However, the Jehovah's Witnesses not-for-profit New System School, Inc. also refused to become a member of TACRS, because its' statement of faith read:
I/we declare that the leadership of our school is of good moral character; and subscribes to the historic creeds of the Christian church (Apostles, Nicene, Chalcedon); and recognizes the authority of the Scriptures in all matters of faith and practice. Further, we agree to abide by the TACRS Education Guidelines.
To kowtow to the Jehovah's Witnesses, TACRS agreed to start offering an "Associate" membership, with the statement:
I/we declare that the leadership of our school is of good moral character and we agree to abide by the TACRS Education Guidelines.
There is no further info about the Christy case, nor whether New System School, Inc. actually affiliated with TACRS.
AARON T. MORRIS v. MANTECA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, ET AL. In February 1998, Martin Morris and Sandra Morris, of Manteca, California, filed a formal complaint with the local school district after a Manteca High School metal shop teacher used "derogatory language" toward their physically disabled and learning-challenged 19 year-old son during that son's fourth semester under that same shop teacher. The shop teacher also allegedly threw a welding glove at Aaron T. Morris, leaving a dirty smudge on his shirt. The Jehovah's Witness Parents also filed a criminal complaint with the local police, which alleged violation of their son's civil rights, but the local District Attorney declined to criminally prosecute the shop teacher after reviewing the evidence.
Local media reported that the metal shop teacher had taught at Manteca High School for 24 years, and interviewed students of that shop teacher gave the shop teacher mixed reviews, but none indicated that he was a "strict" instructor. Rather, one student even indicated that the shop teacher would "joke" with his students at their own level, and that Aaron Morris may have simply misinterpreted the teacher's words and actions. The shop teacher was placed on paid administraive leave in February, but was placed on unpaid administrative leave in March when termination proceedings were initiated. In June 1998, the School District and the shop teacher reached a settlement whereby the teacher resigned in exchange for a $14,000.00 payment.
In August 1998, a lawsuit seeking $100,000.00 in damages was filed against the school district and the shop teacher. The lawsuit alleged assault, battery, sexual harassment, as well as mental and emotional distress to Aaron Morris during a class session. Outcome unknown, but probably settled for substantial amount if not full request.
IN RE ROBERT H. was a 1995-6 Sumner County, Tennesee "juvenile court" case, which involved a second family of Jehovah's Witness Home Schoolers, who apparently also intentionally disobeyed the home schooling law as it then existed in Tennessee, and as a result, also got their child charged with truancy. No further details.
IN RE HARTSTUFF was a 1992 Gibson County, Tennessee "trunacy" case which involved the daughter of Gale and Lora Hartstuff. HSLDA assisted with getting the case dismissed despite the fact that New System School apparently did not meet state requirements at that time.
TEXAS v. MATA (1987), TEXAS v. MATA (1988), and MATA v. SCHOOL BOARD (1993) were related Texas criminal and civil court cases which involved a Jehovah's Witness Parent, named Christopher L. Mata, and his minor daughter, named Ester May Mata. During the 1987-88 school year, Ester Mata was a student at Kindred Elementary School in the South San Antonio Independent School District. Ester Mata supposedly suffered from stomach aches. With the cooperation of Principal Casillas, Christopher Mata began taking Ester out of school during lunch hours, despite the school's closed campus policy. These off-campus lunches supposedly alleviated Ester's stomach problems. Eventually, however, Principal Casillas saw fit to terminated the practice, and he and Mata apparently argued. Thereafter, Chris Mata did not return Ester to school. After Ester had been absent for five days, the school district sent its attendance officer to Mata's home. Caro notified Mara that he was being charged with "truancy", and attempted to serve Mata, but Mara refused to accept the papers. Mara was thereafter convicted by a justice of the peace, and ordered to return Ester to school. Instead, Mata apparently began teaching Ester at home and continued to do so for the remainder of the 1987-88 school year.
When the 1988-89 school year began in the fall, Ester did not report to school. Since there was no report to the school district that Mata had again commenced home schooling, Caro again visited the Mata residence. Mata admitted that he had not yet begun teaching Ester for that school year, but refused Caro's offer of assistance as well as the school's request to view his home classes and to see a curriculum. Mara was again charged with violating the attendance law. For a second time, the justice of the peace convicted Mata for these violations.
Mata appealed both convictions, consolidating them in a single appeal to the Bexar County Court. On appeal, the court ruled that the state had made a prima facie case of Mata's violations of the attendance laws. As a remedy, the court ordered Mata to submit to a home visit by the school district to determine if he was in fact teaching Ester at home. After that visit occurred, the court dismissed the charges. Individually and as Ester's guardian, Mata filed a lawsuit in USDC against the school district, alleging religious discrimination and malicious prosecution for violation of the attendance laws. The USDC dismissed all of Mata's claims, except the malicious prosecution claim, based on the running of the statute of limitations. The court later granted motions for summary judgment dismissing Mata's malicious prosecution claim and all of Ester's claims. On appeal, the USCA affirmed, stating in part:
"A review of the record demonstrates that Mata's vociferous protestations notwithstanding, he has raised no genuine issues of material fact as to at least two essential elements of malicious prosecution: lack of probable cause, and the plaintiff's innocence. Certainly the school district had probable cause to charge Mata with violating the attendance law given the undisputed fact that Ester was absent from school for the statutory period without excuse, and was not being schooled at home at the time. Moreover, two convictions by the justice of the peace, both of which were recognized as valid on appeal, eliminate Mata's claim of innocence.
"The issues to which Mata repeatedly refers as creating a genuine issue of material fact are either irrelevant or flatly contradicted by his own deposition. We have made clear that a plaintiff cannot create a genuine issue of material fact with bald and conclusionary statements. Neither can he manufacture a dispute simply by contradicting his prior testimony or selectively presenting the facts. We do not question Mata's subjective belief that all parties with which he has dealt, including the district court, have persecuted him. Such a belief, however, does not create an issue of material fact; yet that, in a nutshell, is what Mata argues on appeal.
"The record demonstrates beyond cavil that Mata has received fair treatment by the school officials, the justice of the peace, and the district court. Regrettably, the record demonstrates that Mata and his attorney have not responded in kind. Most importantly, the record reveals that Mata has failed to raise genuine issues of material fact on at least two of the elements of malicious prosecution; therefore his claim cannot survive summary judgment.
"... Mata also alleges that Ester's treatment and his prosecution are based on religious discrimination. Mata's arguments on this point are scattered conclusionary references to community and school bias against Jehovah's Witnesses. To the extent that he argues this issue at all, he presents nothing more than bald assertions, insufficient to survive a summary judgment motion.
ROSARIO v. BOARD OF EDUCATION was a 2002 New York federal appellate court decision in which the "hero" of the case was an 11 year-old Jehovah's Witness sixth grade student, named Lisette Santos. On June 8, 1998, the Principal at Intermediate School 74 in New York City, via the school's intercom system, called for a moment of silence in honor of a fifth-grader, named Christopher Lee, who had recently drowned. In the sixth grade classroom of Lisette Santos, substitute teacher Mildred Rosario was met with a number of challenging questions after the moment of silence ended. First, "Where is Christopher Lee?", to which Rosario responded "heaven", followed by even more questions, such as, "What is heaven like?", or, "What does God look like?"
Given that the vast majority of her class seemed intensely interested about death, afterlife, God, etc., Rosario asked her class if they wanted to discuss these topics. Nearly all responded positively. Yet, recognizing that some students might not be comfortable discussing such topics, Rosario told her class that anyone who did not wish to particpate in the discussion group, they could go to the back of the room and read or use the computers. One or two students left, but Lisette Santos remained in the discussion group. At the end of the discussion, Rosario told the discussion group that if any student wanted to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior that she would be willing to pray with them, which did occur.
After the class ended (unclear whether a single class, or at end of day), Lisette Santos telephoned her legal guardian (her sister-in-law) and reported what had occurred. Santos reportedly claimed that she had been frightened by what Rosario had said and done. Santos' guardian came to the school, and together they reported Rosario to the Principal. Rosario was removed from her classroom the next day, and four days later, Rosario was fired, and had her teacher's license revoked . Rosario thereafter filed a federal lawsuit. The federal trial and appellate courts ruled against Rosario, stating that a school board may have a "compelling interest in avoiding Establishment Clause violations", which may justify firing a teacher who engages in religious discussion. When asked to comment on the teacher's firing, a spokesman for the Watch Tower Society boasted that schools were no place for children to learn how to pray, and that religious instruction was not the job of public school teachers.
In 1988, a Jehovah's Witness Parent, named Susan Marty, apparently threatened Dry Creek Elementary School, in Clovis, California, with a federal "constitutional rights" lawsuit after teachers confiscated some "Anti-Valentines" which Marty had prepared for her two sons to exchange with their classmates during the school's Valentine's Day celebrations. The "Anti-Valentines" supposedly contained the WatchTower Society's reasonings as to why Valentine's Day is a pagan holiday that should not be celebrated. No further info beyond the reported threat.
WIGFALL v. CALIFORNIA COMMUNITY COLLEGES was a 1994-97? California federal court case which involved an African-American Jehovah's Witnesses named Zari Niada Wigfall. Limited details. Zari Wigfall was a college student at Sacramento Community College in 1994, who in all probability heard about the nearly $260,000.00 judgment which her two fellow Jehovah's Witnesses, Lanell Bessard and Tanella Bridges, had just won from Fresno City College in 1994. Zari Wigfall had first been denied a part-time job at Sacramento Community College, due to her refusal to sign the loyalty oath required of all state employees, in the Spring 1994 semester. In Fall 1994, Wigfall again applied for a part-time job at SCC, but was again denied due to her refusal as a Jehovah's Witness to take the standard loyalty oath required of all state employees. Wigfall thereafter filed a federal lawsuit using the same legal theory as did Lanell Bessard and Tanella Bridges -- the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Wigfall also won her lawsuit, but I have been unable to discover how large was her award.
In 1999, Zari Niada Wigfall testified about her "ordeal" in Washington D.C. before a Congressional sub-committee, which related to the fact that the Supreme Court had declared the RFRA unconstitutional (too late for California taxpayers, tho.) Wigfall acknowledged that she had won her lawsuit prior to RFRA being overturned, but she was not asked, and she did not volunteer, how much $$$ she had been awarded.
MAZANEC v. NORTH JUDSON-SAN PIERRE SCHOOL CORP was a 1981-86 Indiana federal court running battle which pitted a family of Jehovah's Witnesses, named the Mazanecs, against their local School District. The Mazanecs were initially represented by two Catholic law professors from the University of Notre Dame: Edward McBlynee Gaffney, Jr. and Charles E. Rice. However, they later obtained other representation, and even represented themselves at certain points. Finally, in 1986, Edward McGlynn Gaffney, Jr., by then a law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, re-joined the case.
Prior to the start of the 1979-80 school year, Barbara Mazanec, who declared herself "an ordained Minister" under the WatchTower Society's flickering "brighter light" of back-and-forth interpretations of which JWs they consider to be "ordained ministers", decided that the environment and education provided by the local public schools were incompatible with her family's WatchTower beliefs. So, Pastor Mazanec enrolled her three children, Patricia, Susan, and Angela, in a home school program, called the Santa Fe Community School, for the 1979-80 school term.
After discovering and inquiring as to the Mazanec children's absence from public school, and being informed that they were being home-schoolded, James Moore, Superintendent and Local Attendance Officer of the North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation, contacted the Santa Fe Community School, and eventually decided that its' program was barely sufficient to bring the Mazanecs into compliance with the Indiana compulsory education statute.
Prior to the start of the 1980-1 school year, Richard Mazanec and Barbara Mazanec decided to create her own school, the Greenhouse Academy, that would be operated out of the Mazanec home. Barbara Mazanec, who did not have a high school diploma, was the Academy's principal. (Barbara Mazanec also conducted a colon irrigating business out of her home during school hours.) Instruction was given either by Barbara Mazanec, or by one of her children. The Mazanecs intended to supplement Indiana mandated curricula with WatchTower religious and moral instruction.
On August 29, 1980, Superintendent Moore sent a letter to the plaintiffs, informing them that the North Judson-San Pierre public schools had begun classes on August 25, 1980, and that the children of Richard and Barbara Mazanec were not enrolled among the students attending the above-named public schools. Defendant Moore advised the plaintiffs that they had ten days from the date of the receipt of his letter in which to enroll the children in the North Judson-San Pierre public schools, or to provide him with details regarding home-schooling. In a letter, dated September 10, 1980, Barbara Mazanec stated that she was aware of her obligations and rights under Indiana law, and that there would be a slight delay in complying with Moore's request.
On September 22, 1980, Moore swore out a complaint against the Mazanecs with the local Prosecuting Attorney. Moore's decision was based on evidence that the children were seen unsupervised during school hours one month after the start of the term at the public schools, and on the refusal of the Mazanecs to cooperate with Moore in verifying the educational program of the Greenhouse Academy. The Superintendent's efforts to satisfy himself that the Mazanecs were complying with Indiana law were met with what the District Judge later described as the "Mazanec stone-wall."
INDIANA v. MAZANEC. On September 29, 1980, the same day that the Prosecutor filed charges against Richard Mazanec and Barbara Mazanec, the Mazanecs responded to Moore with a letter announcing the opening of the Greenhouse Academy, a legally incorporated private school. This letter described the curriculum of the school in very general terms and expressed the opinion that the letter was sufficient to prove the family was in compliance with Indiana law.
Rather than maintaining a dialogue with the local School District, in the ensuing months, Barbara Mazanec entered into a dialogue with Marilyn Mabry, the State of Indiana Attendance Officer, in Indianapolis, concerning the requirements for the establishment of a home school, and what the Mazanecs needed to do to comply with the compulsory attendance law. In a letter, dated March 30, 1981, Mabry expressed her opinion that the Mazanecs were finally in compliance with Indiana law. However, neither Moore, nor any other local school official, nor the local Prosecutor, were informed by the Mazenecs nor Mabry of the Mazenecs' dialogue with Mabry, nor did they receive a copy of the Mabry-Mazanec letter.
In a letter to Superintendent Moore, dated July 13, 1981, Barbara Mazanec, in the course of announcing that she had filed a federal lawsuit against the Superintendent, the school corporation, and the Prosector for malicious prosecution, referred to the letter from the State Attendance Officer. Moore, however, had never saw the Mabry letter, nor had he ever been contacted by Mabry's office.
On August 7, 1981, the state circuit court dismissed the criminal charges pending against the Mazanecs for lack of probable cause. The Prosecutor, believing the dismissal was the product of a technical deficiency, filed a new information accompanied by a new affidavit that the Prosecutor drafted for Moore's signature. In September 1981, the state court once again dismissed the charges. At that point, the Prosecutor decided that the misdemeanor charges did not warrant further consideration by his office.
Despite the fact that nearly all of the Mazanecs' problems were self-inflicted due to their own failures to follow procedures and communicate with the involved parties, these Jehovah's Witnesses continued their federal lawsuit against the North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation; its Superintendent, James F. Moore; David M. Geisler, Prosecuting Attorney for the 44th Judicial Circuit of the State of Indiana; and Marilyn V. Mabry, Indiana State Attendance Officer. Moore, Geisler, and Mabry were all sued in both their official capacities and as individuals. The Mazanecs asserted eight causes of action under the first and fourteenth amendments. The rights allegedly abridged included the right to free exercise of religion, the right of freedom of speech, the right to freedom of association in educational endeavors, the right under the Due Process clause to have their liberty and property interests in the Greenhouse Academy protected, and the right to equal protection of the laws. The complaint sought injunctive and declaratory relief, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.
The subsequent court battle involved so many legalities at the USDC and USCA levels that it is difficult to sort out such. There was an unknown USDC ruling in December 1982, which possibly was a dismissal based on a possible decision that the case would better be litigated in state court. However, that decision was possibly reversed and remanded after the Mazanecs amended their complaint, since there was a hearing in USDC in May 1984, following which the USDC entered an opinion dismissing the Mazanecs' complaint. The Mazanecs appealed the May 1984 USDC decision, which was addressed by the USCA in December 1984, and again in May 1985, in which the case was again remanded for a trial, which occurred in July 1985. The USDC found that the requested injunctive relief, which amounted to providing guidelines for state and local officials in applying Indiana's compulsory attendance act, essentially would be an advisory opinion, particularly in light of the fact that there was no continued threat of prosecution. With respect to the damage claims, the district court ruled that all the defendants were entitled to good faith or absolute immunity. The USDC did, however, make one important finding for the Mazanecs. It found that the Mazanec children had received an education equivalent to that available in the public schools. Having so determined, the USDC found it unnecessary to decide the constitutional issues because the state law fully accommodated the constitutional rights asserted. The Mazanecs appealed.
In August 1986, the USCA issued its decision affirming the USDC's decision. While explaining that Barbara Mazanec's claims for injunctive and declaratory relief were "moot", due to a change in circumstances, namely, that the three children were then residing in Illinois, the USCA made this interesting, though vague, comment:
"The record indicates that the Mazanec children were sent to Illinois for reasons apart from the circumstances giving rise to this action."
With regard to the Mazanec's claim for "damages", the USCA stated, in part:
The Mazanecs ... argue that the [compulsory education] statute is sufficiently vague to allow the monitoring authorities to harass them because of their religious beliefs and because of their assertion of their right to free speech in the form of establishing a home school.
The problem with the Mazanecs' view of this case is that it is based on the assumption that Mr. Moore initiated the prosecution because of a hostility to home schooling or to Jehovah's Witnesses. The district court found ... that the Mazanecs were prosecuted because they frustrated the attempts at verifying compliance with the law, not because their actions were deemed incapable of meeting the requirements of the law.
The district court found that Mr. Moore made reasonable efforts to discharge his statutory duty to investigate the educational arrangements made for the plaintiffs' children and that, based on the information available at the time, he acted properly in turning this information over to the prosecutor. It is important to emphasize that, despite the Mazanecs' contrary contentions, it was the prosecutor, not Mr. Moore, who made the ultimate decision to press criminal charges and who controlled the course of the prosecution. Thus at one level, ascribing responsibility to Mr. Moore and the school corporation is difficult simply because the harassment, to the extent the acts of the prosecution can be so described, was ultimately the decision of a prosecutor. If the evidence indicated that Moore had given the prosecutor erroneous information or failed to attempt to investigate the situation adequately, this might have been a different case. Given the district court's finding that Mr. Moore's investigation was proper in the context of the plaintiffs' uncooperative attitude, however, the superintendent and the school corporation cannot be held liable for any errors in the exercise of the prosecutor's discretion to continue the prosecution after September 29, 1980.
Although Moore acted properly and in accord with his statutory responsibilities, that does not mean that the statute necessarily passes constitutional muster. Under the circumstances of this case, however, the plaintiffs' conduct leading up to their prosecution undercuts their attempts to attack the statute, and the governmental action, on constitutional grounds. There is no dispute that the Indiana statute allows in theory and in practice the type of home education desired by the Mazanecs. ... There was testimony that 178 home schools were being operated in Indiana at the time of the trial. Thus, to the extent such a right exists, Barbara Mazanec's constitutional right to educate her children as she saw fit was capable of being accommodated under Indiana law provided that there are no material flaws in the language of the statute or in the systematic enforcement of the law by government officials. The problem here is that the alleged wrong, the prosecution, was found to be a product of the Mazanecs' failure to cooperate rather than infirmities in the statute or its application. Since a compulsory education law is in theory constitutional, as is the inevitable enforcement of the law, it is clear that under any such law parents would have to assist state officials charged with monitoring compliance. Thus, even in a state with a constitutionally perfect education law and system, people like the plaintiffs who frustrate state officials in enforcing the compulsory education law will be prosecuted. Under these circumstances the Mazanecs are not the proper parties to be challenging the constitutionality of the statute, or Mr. Moore's method of enforcing it, because the record indicates that it was not the alleged constitutional infirmities that caused their injuries. ...
The Mazanecs devote a considerable portion of their argument to the state's alleged failure to accommodate their first amendment rights by using a less restrictive alternative to criminal prosecution. Once again this theoretically compelling argument is fatally weakened by the plaintiffs' conduct. The less restrictive alternatives suggested all involve parental participation, an item that the district court concluded was not readily available. The area of compulsory education involves a delicate balancing of the first amendment rights of both parents and children and the interests of the state in education. ... In reviewing a statute that seeks to accommodate the competing sides of the balance, or the actions taken pursuant to such a statute, we must have before us parties whose rights were allegedly violated by the state's policy or enforcement. We will not reach out to decide constitutional issues that may arise in a close case on behalf of plaintiffs, like the Mazanecs, whose conduct puts them clearly within the zone in which the government is justified in taking action, including prosecution.
This MAZANEC case is occasionally cited as if this Jehovah's Witness Family had won their five year long court battle simply because the 1985 USDC court found that the Mazanec children had received an "equivalent education" under Indiana law during the 1980-1 school year. However, note carefully how the USCA construed such:
The final issue raised by the Mazanecs is their right to attorney's fees ... . They argue that the district judge's finding that the children received an equivalent education under Indiana law constituted a partial award of the declaratory relief sought. The Mazanecs would be considered the "prevailing party" for purposes of determining their entitlement to reasonable attorney's fees under section 1988 if they can be deemed to have succeeded "`on any significant issue in litigation which achieves some of the benefit [they] sought in bringing the suit.'" ... The district court rejected the fee request on the grounds that neither Mr. Moore nor the school corporation had violated the constitution and that Mr. Moore and the remaining defendants were entitled to immunity. This precluded, according to the district court, the imposition of liability for attorney's fees ... .
We agree with the district court but on a somewhat narrower basis. What the plaintiffs received was a declaration or a finding that they were in compliance with state law. This is not something the Mazanecs "sought" to achieve in bringing this lawsuit. The Mazanecs' amended complaint prays for injunctive, declaratory, and monetary relief based on alleged violations of their constitutional rights and those of their children. They never prevailed in getting any declaration that their civil rights claims had merit. ...
IMMEDIATO v. RYE NECK SCHOOL DISTRICT was a 1996 New York federal USCA court decision. The two named plaintiffs were Daniel Immediato, and his parents Eugene and Diane Immediato, and Mario Gironda Jr., and his parents Mario Sr. and Sandra Gironda. I have not delved deeply into this topic, or even this single case, because I have NOT been able to establish that either of the named plaintiffs were Jehovah's Witnesses. This case was one of several that arose during the 1990s over the question as to whether it was constitutional for high schools to require students to perform "community service" as a condition of graduation. This USCA decision upheld the USDC's decision that "community service" requirements were constitutional, and it is possible that SCOTUS denied cert.
There are repeated brief references, in articles discussing this issue, to the fact that an unnamed Jehovah's Witness Student at Rye Neck High School in Mamaroneck, New York, attempted to have approved as his/her required "community service project" their weekly JW door-to-door recruiting activities, which are also required of them as a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Rye Neck High School supposedly refused to approve the JW Student's purposed "project" on "establishment clause" grounds. One article even indicated that the again unnamed JW Student then refused to perform any other type project, so failed to meet the school's requirements for graduation, and thus the JW Student failed to receive their high school diploma.
Possibly, the JW Student was not either of these plaintiffs, and the JW Student scenario was only briefly mentioned in briefs and/or oral arguments in this case, or even possibly, one of the two plaintiffs was that JW student and his parents, and although the issue of the JW "door-knocking" project was not part of this case, because such was seen as a certain losing issue, possibly the JWs were sufficiently irritated to go forward on other issues that might have stood a better chance of getting the "community service" requirement declared "unconstitutional".
ARKANSAS v. BRIGHT. In March 1991, Susan Bright, of Pulaski County, Arkansas, refused to allow her 7 year-old son, Jason Bright, to be immunized against polio, diphtheria, measles, whooping cough, and other childhood illnesses due to her religious beliefs. Although unconfirmed, there are multiple indications that the Brights were either Jehovah's Witnesses, or otherwise held WatchTower beliefs. Because of the refusal, Jason Bright was not permitted to enter the first grade. Eventually, truancy charges were presses against Susan Bright. However, a local judge instead issued a court order requiring the local school system to admit the child without benefit of immunizations.
HOOSE v. CARTHAGE CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT was a 1985-6 New York federal court case in which the Jehovah's Witness Parents of Benjamin Hoose sued their local school district for $2,000,000.00 damages, plus injunctive relief to force the entry of Benjamin into kindergarten despite the fact that Benjamin did not have all required immunizations. In fact, the school district had permitted Benjamin to attend school while the case was pending. The USDC denied the damages, but did rule in the Hoose's favor with regard to the required immunizations. The USDC ruled that since certain immunizations are derived from blood or blood parts, and that since Jehovah's Witnesses are not permitted to introduce blood, or certain parts thereof, into their bodies, then a school district cannot require such for admission to school. The USDC noted that while some JWs do not interpret WatchTower rules as strict as did the Hooses, such did not matter, so long as the Hooses were sincere in their beliefs.
BOGGESS v. MATTHEWS NORTH CAROLINA CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES was a 1991-? North Carolina civil court case. In May 1991, Ginger Boggess, 48, who had been a Jehovah's Witness for 20 years, met with Elders of her congregation with regard to her daughter's membership on the Student Council at her junior high school. The meeting allegedly lasted approximately 90 minutes, during which Boggess also alleged that the Elders held her against her will during an "inquisition-like" interrogation that caused her to suffer a mental breakdown. Her husband, who was not a JW, alleged that he found his wife slumped unconscious in a chair following the meeting. Thereafter, Ginger Boggess and John Boggess filed this civil lawsuit against eight members of her former JW congregation, accusing them of false imprisonment, assault and battery, and inflicting mental distress. Outcome unknown.
IN RE CURTIS H. (Linked PDF) was a 1984 Georgia case which involved Jehovah's Witness Parents fighting with the Atlanta School Board about whether their first grader, who was homeschooled instead of being sent to pre-school and kindergarten, should be evaluated for "learning, social adjustment, and speech problems" sufficient to cause the child to be classified as "handicapped". Typically, the parents blamed the school system for being "prejudiced" against Jehovah's Witnesses. The other allegations were probably moot.
MARYLAND v. TERRY MILLER and KATHLEEN MILLER was a 1982-84 criminal prosecution of Maryland's compulsory school attendance law after the Millers removed their two children from school rather than allow their two children to be vacccinated. Outcome unknown.
OHIO v. KIMES and OHIO v. KIMES were two related 1952 and 1953 Ohio cases in which Woodrow Kimes, a Jehovah's Witness, refused to permit his son to receive immunizations required for public school attendance due to WatchTower teachings that certain immunizations contained blood parts. For the second refusal, Kimes was sentenced to 10 days in county jail.
NEW HAMPSHIRE v. DREW was a 1935 criminal court "truancy" case, which involved a Dover, New Hampshire, Jehovah's Witness, named Lawrence E. Drew. Lawrence Drew refused to have his son, Othnell Drew, 8, properly vaccinated, due to their WatchTower beliefs, which was a state requirement for school attendance. Drew was found guilty at trial level and appealed. Outcome unknown.
"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
This 11-year-old Jehovah's Witness Student aspires to grow up and earn her living as a part-time Janitor, so she can knock doors for the WatchTower Society.
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