PLANO, Texas – Texas homeschooling mother Kelly Counts is suing her neighbor over loud and profane rap music that blared from the home every time her four children played in their backyard last summer.
“For a while, I’d bring the kids inside and it would stop, and when we went out it would start again,” Counts told The Dallas Morning News, adding that police intervention didn’t solve the problem. “Finally, we decided to sue because of the nuisance, and they did stop once they were served.”
The neighbors – Irving and Anita Ward – then decided late last year to file a counter suit, claiming the kids playing on their swing set and playhouse cause obnoxious noise and ruined their life.
It was the same complaint the Wards filed with Stony Hollow Homeowners Association and the city of Plano in pointing out the playhouse sat just a little too close to their property. The children were upsetting their “tranquil quality of life” by “creating noise issues as well as visibility issues for them and their pets,” according to HOA minutes cited by CBS DFW.
“It’s unfathomable to me,” Counts told the news site. “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.”
“One of the big reasons we chose the house was because we would be able to move this playhouse,” she said.
The Counts worked out the zoning issues with the HOA and city, but the Wards are continuing their campaign, arguing in the lawsuit that because the children – ages 10, 7, 4 and 2 years old – are homeschooled they play during the day, when other kids are at school.
“The Wards have never once asked me to tone down the noise of the kids playing,” Counts said.
The mother told ABC News that playtime is “vitally important” to ensuring her children get the most out of their homeschooling.
“Kids are full of energy,” she said. “So to enable them to get out those wiggles during the day makes their school day better.”
The family considered moving again after just arriving to the neighborhood about a year ago, but opted against it, Counts told the Morning News.
“The thought has crossed my mind,” she said, “and then I realize it’s ridiculous. We moved here because we love this house, and we love this neighborhood.
“We aren’t moving.”
Multiple news agencies attempted to contact the Wards and their attorney but did not receive a response.
Kelly Counts and her husband Andrew now have two hearings to attend – one on their lawsuit against the Wards, and another next month on the Wards’ lawsuit.
Rebecca French, a homeschool mom and blogger for Pahteos, weighed in on the Wards’ case in a recent blog, Christian News reports.
“Do your children have the right to play outside during school hours?” she wrote. “Do our neighbors have a reasonable expectation to not have to hear the sounds of children at play during the time when ‘most children are in regular schools?’”
“Imagine the precedent that a victory in this case could set for overbearing neighbors everywhere,” she continued. “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?
“Have we really reached the point as a society where the natural sounds of children playing is a recognized legally actionable nuisance? What does that say about our future?”