Sunday, April 04, 2004

On Herb Gardens & Homeschooling...

We've been in our current home about 7 years now. When we were house-hunting back in 1997 we previewed some newer homes as well as some older ones. The newer ones were typically larger, with nicer amenities, but the older ones had larger yards and... no homeowner's associations. We decided on an older (circa 1965) home that, although it is small by comparison to today's average home, it sits on a larger lot. What's more, we don't have to hike up the street to get our mail at a community mailbox... it's delivered the old-fashioned way right to our front door by a friendly mail carrier. Instead of barely getting one car in our driveway we could easily get four cars there. Our south facing front-yard has an assortment of native plants as well as many herbs - not quite the Kentucky Bluegrass typical in suburbia. Of course there are the occasional eyesores in the neighborhood, but freedom has a price. Interestingly enough, there's a story of a Homeowner's Association that attempted to get a homeschooling family to cease and desist recently. In Homeowners Association Threatens California Homeschoolers, we read:
...John and Sandy Astin (names changed) chose to live in an upscale, gated community in Southern California for the safety and comfort it would afford them and their children. They never imagined that their Homeowners Association would threaten their ability to homeschool their children. The Astins homeschool two of their own children. They also work together with other homeschoolers to ensure that their children are getting the best education possible. Twice a week, Sandy takes her children to a friend's home to be tutored in science, and returns the favor by having her friend's two children visit her home to tutor them in history. Apparently, some nosy neighbors believed that the Astins were violating the policies of the Homeowners Association by running a school out of their home. The Astins received a letter from the Association's expensive Los Angeles law firm accusing them of schooling "numerous children" in their home and of violating the Association's covenants by using their home for "non-residential" purposes. The letter demanded that the Astins "cease operating a home schooling program" in their home by March 12, 2004. The letter threatened fines and possible court action.
The Home School Legal Defense Association promptly informed the Association that homeschooling sometimes involves the cooperation of multiple homeschool families. Such cooperation should not be construed as using a home for "non-residential" purposes. The Association's law firm responded in mid-March, conceding that the Astins had not converted their home to a non-residential use.

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