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Mozert v. Hawkins County Board of Education

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
827 F.2d 1058 (6th Cir. 1987)


The Hawkins County Board of Education (the board) (defendant) adopted the Holt, Rinehart, and Winston basic reading series (the Holt Series) for students in first through eighth grade. The Holt Series was adopted to further the critical reading skills of students in the school district. Critical reading was designed to enable students to evaluate the material they read, contrast the ideas presented, and understand complex themes and characters. The Holt Series contained stories with various concepts, including mental telepathy, evolution, thought transfer, and magic. Some parents objected to the Holt Series, and those parents’ children were initially allowed to complete alternative assignments. However, the board then eliminated all alternative reading programs and required every student to attend classes using the Holt Series. A group of parents (plaintiffs) sued the board, alleging that the board’s requirement to use the Holt Series infringed the plaintiffs’ free exercise of religion under the First Amendment. The plaintiffs alleged that exposing their children to other forms of religion and views that contradicted the parents’ religion infringed on their free-exercise rights, unless the children were informed by the board that the differing views were incorrect. The district court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and granted a preliminary injunction. The board appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Lively, J.)

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