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Homeschool Family Sued For Letting Kids Play Outside

Homeschool Family Sued For Letting Kids Play Outside

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A homeschool family has been sued by neighbors for letting the children play outside, and the mom is speaking out.

Homeschool mom Kelly Counts and her husband are facing a lawsuit over the “loud and obnoxious noise and commotion caused by the children playing” which has “unreasonably interfered with the Wards use and enjoyment of their property” and “harmed the Wards and caused damages to their property rights.”

The suit also states that the Counts violated their neighbors’ property rights because the children are “on the play structure [playhouse] several times each day during weekdays (when most children are in regular schools) and constantly on weekends, weather permitting.”

In other words, the Counts are being sued because their four children are homeschooled.

“It’s unfathomable to me,” Kelly Counts said of the situation in an interview with CBS-DFW. “I can’t imagine the sound of kids playing at any age or stage of my life and thinking that I needed to sue someone over it.”

Lawsuit over Playhouse

The structure is a playhouse that Counts and her husband built on their back porch in Plano, Texas. The noise the children made playing there so upset the neighbors, Irving and Anita Ward, that they complained to a home owners association, called in a city inspector and played explicit gangster rap music at a high volume to drive the kids away.

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Homeschool Family Sued For Letting Kids Play Outside

The Counts’ playhouse.

Counts had to bring the kids inside, and the family called a police officer because of the explicit lyrics in the rap songs. The Counts also tweaked the playhouse to meet city code – for example, removing the playhouse porch roof. But the city issued a variance allowing the Counts to keep the playhouse, and so the Wards sued.

“The Wards have never once asked me to tone down the noise of the kids playing,” Counts said.

The Wards aren’t talking

“I have nothing to say,” Irving Ward told CBS-DFW. “I have to call my attorney.”

Case Could Threaten Homeschoolers’ Rights

The civil case, Ward v. Counts, could threaten homeschoolers’ rights and the rights of all parents, wrote Rebeca Frech of the Patheos blog Catholic channel.

“If the Wards prevail, will the courts have handed those who are against home-based education an effective new way to attack our families and our way of life?” French wrote. “What will become of homeschooling families if the court agrees to this? Will it mean the death of recess and play time for homeschooled children and those who are too young to attend a traditional school?”

It looks as if social workers and school officials are not the only legal threat to homeschoolers’ rights. Some neighbors and their attorneys are now a threat.

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