Texas Homeschooling Family Sued for Allowing Children to Play Outside

SwingsetPLANO, Texas – A husband and wife in Texas are being sued by their neighbors for allowing their homeschooled children to play in their backyard.

Andrew and Kelly Counts moved into their Plano, Texas, home in September of 2014. They reportedly chose the house in part because it had a concrete patio in the backyard—a perfect spot for their kids’ outdoor playhouse and swing set.

“One of the big reasons we chose the house was because we would be able to move this playhouse,” Kelly Counts told reporters.

“We love this house, and we love this neighborhood,” she added.

The Counts’ four children, who are 10, 7, 4, and 2 years old, enjoy spending time in their playhouse and swing set. Because the kids are homeschooled, they sometimes play outside during the day, when other kids are at school.

But two of the Counts’ next-door neighbors, Irving and Anita Ward, are now suing the homeschooling family, saying the kids are a nuisance and make too much noise. First, the neighbors asked the local homeowners association and the City of Plano to force the Counts to remove the playhouse and swing set. When that initiative failed, they took the issue to court.

“It’s unfathomable to me,” Counts said, according to the local CBS affiliate. “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.”

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The Wards allege that the homeschooled children are upsetting their “tranquil quality of life” and should not be allowed to play in their backyard. According to a report from “Inquisitr,” their lawsuit blamed the Counts for allowing their children to play outside when “most children are in regular schools.”

In retaliation to the homeschoolers’ time outdoors, the upset neighbors blared loud rap music with obscene, vulgar lyrics from their property to prevent the Counts’ kids from playing outside 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 “Dallasnews.com.” “I knocked on the door and said, ‘Mrs. Ward, my kids are trying to play in the side yard and there’s some music playing with very vulgar language.’”

But the Wards refused to speak about the issue, so the Counts responded with a lawsuit of their own last month. The Counts say their neighbors’ loud, explicit music makes them feel uncomfortable in their own backyard.

Rebecca French, a homeschool mom who blogs on “Patheos.com,” encouraged homeschoolers to pay close attention to this Texas case, saying it has the potential to affect homeschoolers’ rights.

“Do our children have the right to play outside during school hours?” French asked in a recent blog post. “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 playing children is a recognized legally actionable nuisance? What does that say about our future?”

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  • Kids: you love them, or you hate them.

    • Norma Harris-Check


  • Josey

    Children are allowed recess in public schools and because I live across from a school it is loud but to me it is a wonderful sound to hear the children playing, screaming with delight and working off some energy. These neighbors can’t stand to hear a few children playing for what is probably about 20 minutes a couple times a day in their own backyard but yet they can blast vulgar loud music in retaliation to the children playing outside, ridiculous people, surely they can work out some compromise like adults but everyone wants to sue everyone else anymore. Can’t wait to see how this turns out.

    • WorldGoneCrazy

      You think the “offended” family is liberal?!? 🙂

      You know, Josey, at the Saturday vigils in front of the local abortion mill, the deathscorts come out and play Satanic music to attempt to drown out our singing. I wonder if these neighbors of this homeschool family are deathscorts or radical pro-aborts who, when seeing the sweet children playing next door, are reminded of their abortions and just cannot handle the guilt? Just a guess, but usually it is that sort of demonic soul that would be vulgar toward children. Either that, or the vulgar ones are jealous because the homeschool kids can actually read and write and speak properly, unlike their kids, if they have any.

      Not even in my worst atheistic days would I have sworn at a neighbor’s kids. I was nicer to my neighbor’s dogs than these vulgar neighbors are to children.

  • bowie1

    My neigbour’s kids play in our back yard and I see no problem with it as long it does no damage to our house when they are throwing a ball around. Their yard is quite small and ours is next to a trail (formerly a rail line) and it makes the area larger. I don’t suppose the Wards kids (if they have any) make a lot of noise after their school day is over. What’s the difference Mr. and Mrs. Ward?

  • Mark

    What a couple of jerks. I bet they believe children shouldn’t be able to play… at all… ever as well. I pity their kids if they ever had or have any.

  • JosieGirl2929 .

    Really pathetic what this wonderful “Land of the Free” of ours is turning into, as our “freedom” is becoming the means of such self-involvement. Children playing outside bothering you? Really?

    Your “tranquil quality of life’?

    I’ll bet that loud, vulgar music really ADDS to that “tranquility”, doesn’t it.

    C’mon, folks. A little MATURITY, please!

    ~ ~ ~
    January 21, 2016 – Thursday

  • William Mazeo

    Keep not going to vote because you don’t like the GOP candidate and let Democrats take power, you’ll see much worse things happening. Their presence influence every sector in society…

    • Ambulance Chaser

      What does this have to do with Democrats?

      • concerned

        I’ll bet they aren’t consevatives. The homeschooling family have their rights too, This “neighbor” is trying to deny them their right to use their own backyard.

      • William Mazeo

        The more power you give them the more this stuff will happen. As I said their presence influence every sector.
        Biggest mistake conservatives in general did was not stopping those people from getting into schools/college.
        They’ll get rid of home schooling, take your guns, etc. All to put your life in the hands of a government. They break your leg then gives you a crutch and appears to the masses as the good guys. This don’t happen in a day, it takes decades but letting them on power sure helps to go faster.
        If you want to see US future take a look at Latin America, we have been electing people that thinks like the Democrats for decades and the same thing is now happening in US but lucky you still have a real oposition, we don’t anymore except for 4~10 deputy among 500 of them.
        And btw home schooling is a *crime* here in Brazil. Not sending them to a school allow the government to take the kids from you.

        • Josey

          I hear you, my father is a die hard democrat in complete denial, I can’t seem to get him to understand the assistance he so brags about that dems hand out left and right come with a huge price, freedom.

          • April

            So what about the people that need help? What if your father was one of those that need it one day? Or a single mom whose husband died and she just needs help getting back on her feet? I think our system needs fixed, HUGELY, but I don’t think it needs to be stopped.

        • April

          Being a Democrat has nothing to do with it. I am a Democrat and I think this story is ridiculous. Kids have the right to play, no matter what time of day. I was a homeschool mother myself because of my son being bullied at school and I could not imagine if someone told me my son couldn’t play outside on his breaks. And as some of the others have said, two of the Children wouldn’t be school age anyways so this is just two people being bitter and nasty. We lived in a neighborhood where my kids were the ONLY kids, all elderly, and they all loved my kids because they were well behaved and helped them do things like clean, mow grass, snow shovel, etc. so this is has NOTHING to do with being a Democrat, you just brought that crap here thinking someone would listen to you. They should move if they don’t like the sound of children playing, as most other than Democrats do.

          • William Mazeo

            Keep telling yourself that. Won’t make it true tho.

          • April

            It’s very true. Being a Democrat or Republican or whatever you may be, has nothing to do with this story. I think this story is just two people (probably Not Democrats) looking for attention and their 15 mins of fame. No matter how bad it makes them look. I have never gotten assistance, worked everyday of my life since I was 14, raise my children with a wonderful husband beside me who has done the same, but I do believe in helping those that actually need it. As a nurse, I see people everyday, elderly, that would be appalled by this story. And those are the ones that need help and can’t get it. I admit Our system is really screwed up, but Children playing in their yard is not a bad sound.

          • April

            And being a Democrat does not mean you rely on hand outs. I have NEVER got assistance a day in my life. How would you feel if your mom or dad, needed help and couldn’t get it? It’s mostly elderly people that need it. I do not believe in helping those that come here and get it so easily not working ever here, that makes me really upset, but there are some that actually need help.

          • William Mazeo

            There are a few problems here: you don’t get what a Democrat is. You don’t get what is going on and finally without getting the first 2 you won’t get what I meant either. Sad.

          • April

            You are correct to say there are a few problems here, but it’s not what you said: EVERYTIME something happens, there is always someone like you that finds a way to blame it on something it’s not. It’s not a Political thing and it’s not a race thing. But somehow people like you always find a way to make it seem that way to stir up people and trouble.

          • William Mazeo

            I pray to God you’ll get your eyes open at some point in your life….

  • Mike Crognale

    The Counts are white. The Wards are black. Next question.

    • Norma Harris-Check

      Awww! Now we know whats going on! We aren’t in the dark ages. We all need to be considerate of all families. The Ward’s maybe should either get over themselves or move!

    • acontraryview

      How is that relevant?

  • Norma Harris-Check

    So many people are so HATEFUL, and OBNOXIOUS, which is what the Ward’s are in this case. They need to grow up!

  • Karen

    I hope the judge throws this case right out of court.

  • anarchyst

    HOAs should be illegal

    • Josey

      I could’t live in a HOA neighborhood

    • umrguy42

      I’m no fan of HOAs either, but in this case, it looks like the HOA is not to blame – neither the HOA nor the City, which is why they went to court.

    • Mary Lyons

      HOA’s are a slick way for the developer to get out of doing the maintenance in the neighborhood which is his responsibility, so they created the HOA to make a subdivision sound “exclusive” and the developer conveniently handed his responsibility over to the HOA, then the HOA always has a President that has become like Obama and eventually the neighborhood goes down the drain, because of the power hungry President of the HOA deciding to raise fees, and if HOA members don’t pay, they put liens on their property to make it hard for them to sell.

      You are right HOA should be illegal. If the govt. doesn’t own the property by unpaid property tax, then the HOA will screw you. I am so thankful that my neighborhood isn’t an HOA type neighborhood, but all the one’s around me are and there are complaints all the time and they have become very transient, because of the little govt. within the big govt. It is optional in my neighborhood if you want to be a member which is only $35.00 a year. The other neighborhood HOA’s charge about $100 a month and for what? RIDICULOUS!!

  • AmberJeanetteGardner

    Soundproof your house if you want total silence from the outside world.

  • American Infidel

    My grand twins ran into the same problem. A nut woman (even the cops know she’s nuts) called the cops because the kids were playing in the front yard on a Saturday afternoon and were ‘too loud’…more than once. And would you believe that the cops actually responded to the complaint?

  • Josey

    all the kids in that neighborhood should all go to the Counts backyard for a huge play date and keep doing it till the Wards realize the noise a couple of children at play during the day isn’t so bad after all in comparison…lol

    • Becky


      • Josey

        heh…maybe then they would be grateful for just a couple of kids playing around…sorta like the grass isn’t always greener on the other side analogy but honestly these ppl are probably just against parents homeschooling their children, I don’t really know their motives or the entire situation, only going by the article. I do know there is a movement against parents that homeschool for I’ve heard from some parents who homeschool and those leading that movement want all homeschooling to stop and I assume it’s because they can make better submitted slaves out of children in the public school system instead of free thinkers and some states acts as if they own the children but I’m only assuming and is only my opinion.

        • lizk

          There are really good home schoolers that do very well If you teach the child to be respectful and to be a good citizen to read and write and history what is wrong with all that? I believe all parents should have a choice to homeschool (which is better) or sent them to school to be indocternated to what they want them to know.

  • tedsnyder

    What about the 2 and 4 year old, they are not in school.Can’t they play outside? This is absurd! It is sad to see what our country has come to!

    • MamaBear

      Those neighbors probably think the mom ought to be at work and the little ones in daycare.
      Years ago, after a series of childless neighbors who played loud music at all hours, our landlord warned us he was renting the apartment next to us to a single mother with kids. The quiet at night was a blessed relief after having neighbors who partied and played loud music at one and two in the morning.

      • WorldGoneCrazy

        The many single moms I know are some of the best moms – very strong protectors of their children, with big ambitions for them. I think of Ben Carson’s mom.

        • Oboehner

          Some may be good moms, but the children of single parents are robbed of a very important ingredient.

          • WorldGoneCrazy

            Excellent point – thank you for adding that! You are so correct: all of the peer-reviewed research, and of course, most importantly, the Bible, show that children do best in homes with a loving mom AND dad. God bless you, Sir, for that great comment!

  • acontraryview

    The Ward’s sound like real a-holes.

  • Mom2Five

    Seems to me that two of those children would be there to play outside regardless of whether the family homeschooled or not since they are not of school age yet.

  • 2mrixl1

    The hatred of children and families grows. It’s not enough to murder them in the womb anymore–now they must be tortured and made miserable if they escape alive.

  • mzungu

    By the time the kids grow up the neighbors will have either died, O/D’d and died or moved.

  • The Guest

    Petty, immature and irrational. One of the most wonderful sounds in the world is the joy of children playing. Only a bitter person would think otherwise. Jesus loves the little children, and Satan hates them.

  • Becky

    “In retaliation to the homeschoolers’ time outdoors, the upset neighbors blared loud rap music with obscene, vulgar lyrics from their property to prevent the Counts’ kids from playing outside last summer.”

    Anyone who displays this much rage against children cannot possibly possess a trace of tranquility. Evil.

  • Dianne

    This is absolutely appalling!!! The demon possessed neighbor with her satanic music says volumes. This is an attack from satan against this Godly family. When work crews come to the neighborhood they start at 7:30 am and go at it all day long with nerve racking noise. Will they be banned too!!! Sounds like these neighbors need an adult ONLY neighborhood to live in or they can just grin and bear it like the rest of us.
    Proverbs 12:7 The wicked are OVERTHROWN, and are not: but the HOUSE of the RIGHTEOUS shall STAND,

  • Truthhurts24

    The nosy ghetto neighbors should move to an community full of foolishness instead of trying to ruin the activities of a mature family with morals. Neighbors of Satan

  • Michelle Evans

    This is why it is very stupid to move into HOA nazi communities..smh

  • David McElroy

    Kids at “regular schools” play outside too! Suing to stop kids from playing in their own yard is mean-spirited to the max…. and a real outrageous action that should be laughed out of court!

  • Cathy Sufrich

    The Wards need to move to a retirement community.