Author Says Judge Should Dismiss Frivolous Summer Homework Case

A Wisconsin public high school student and his father are suing to end summer homework in their state, but a prominent legal reform proponent believes the lawsuit is frivolous and should be tossed out.

Peer Larson, a 17-year-old student, and his father Bruce Larson, have filed a lawsuit against the teenager's math teacher, three school administrators, and the Wisconsin Superintendent of Public instruction. The Larsons claim homework should not be mandatory after the required 180-day school year is over because it creates an unfair workload and unnecessary stress.

New York attorney Philip Howard is author of the best-selling book The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America (Warner Books, 1996). He believes the father pressing this suit should be sanctioned for misusing the courts; but unfortunately, the writer says, the judge is unlikely to do that.

“One of the problems with the American legal system is that judges no longer feel that they have the authority to make the value judgments of what's a reasonable claim and what isn't,” Howard says. “The modern conception of judging is that they're more like referees over a neutral process.”

The author and founder of the legal reform group Common Good contends that if the Larsons want to take issue with summer assignments or other school district policies and practices, they should be complaining to their local school board. “If every time somebody has a problem with whether their child made the cheerleading squad, or whether their child was fairly treated here or there, if, every time, they go to court — two things happen,” he says. “The courts get even more clogged up; but more importantly, the people who run schools no longer feel that they have the authority to do their jobs because just going to court diverts them for days or months.”

Howard feels the judge would have been warranted in using judicial discretion to throw out what he sees as an obviously frivolous lawsuit. And in addition to dismissing the complaint, the legal reform advocate says the litigious parent should have been fined a nominal penalty of $500 or $1,000 for filing it in the first place.

(This article courtesy of Agape Press).

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