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North Dakota Couples Who Wanted to Teach at Home Lose Scotus Appeal

October 6, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Four North Dakota couples who wanted to teach their school-aged children at home lost a Supreme Court appeal today.

The justices, without comment, let stand the couples’ truancy convictions despite arguments that North Dakota law violates religious freedom by allowing home teaching by certified teachers only.

Lawyers for the couples said only two other states, Iowa and Michigan, require certification for all teachers.

The four couples who challenged the state law are: Tom and Peggy Patzer and Raymond and Lorita Larsen, Seventh Day Adventists who live in Jamestown, N.D.; Richard and Kathy Reimche, members of a Lutheran Brethren Church and residents of Bottineau County, N.D.; and Gerald and Sheryl Lund, Seventh Day Adventists who live in Bottineau County.

The parents say they fear their children will become ″peer-socialized″ if they attend school at an early age.

They say such exposure will lead the children to accept the social values of their school mates and prevent them from gaining the religious values of their parents.

In upholding the state law last Feb. 20, the North Dakota Supreme Court said the state’s interest in enforcing the teacher-certification feature of its compulsory school attendance laws ″is of sufficient magnitude to override the burden imposed upon the religious interests claimed by the parents under the circumstances.″

In the appeal acted on today, lawyers for the four couples argued that ″there is no scientific or academic evidence that children learn better from a certified teacher than when they are taught by their uncertified parents at home.″

The appeal added that without such proof, imposition of the certification requirement unduly interferes with religious freedom.

The $500 fines the couples’ truancy convictions drew were suspended on the condition they enroll their children in approved schools.

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