Religious freedom law used to challenge home schooling oversight

Two Pennsylvania families have filed lawsuits against their school districts under the state Religious Freedom Protection Act.

They are challenging the state's home school reporting requirements.

Maryalice Newborn of Export in Westmoreland County says she was called by God to teach her children at home. She says she shouldn't be required to report what they do to the government. The other family suing if the Hankin family from Croyden in Bucks County.

The Religious Freedom Protection Act allows people to challenge any laws they believe impose - quote - "substantial burdens upon the free exercise of religion without compelling justification." Similar statutes were also passed in eleven other states after a federal religious freedoms law was declared unconstitutional in 1997.

In Pennsylvania, about 25-thousand students are home schooled. Nationally, the number has reached nearly one (M) million and is rising.

Church-state scholar Marci Hamilton says the families will have a difficult task proving that the home schooling regulations create a substantial burden.