Homeschooling Parents in Germany Lose Right to Educate Their Children

A European court ruled that German authorities are allowed to forcibly remove children from their home if the parents homeschool.

“This ruling ignores the fact that Germany’s policy on homeschooling violates the rights of parents to educate their children and direct their upbringing. It is alarming to see that this was not recognized by the most influential human rights court in Europe. This ruling is a step in the wrong direction and should concern anyone who cares about freedom,” said Paul Coleman, executive director of ADF International.

 

The Story: A European court ruled that German authorities are allowed to forcibly remove children from their home if the parents homeschool. Could that happen in the United States?

The Background: On Thursday, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Germany’s ban on homeschooling did not violate a family’s fundamental rights. Germany is one of the few European countries that penalizes families who want to homeschool.

According to Alliance Defending Freedom International, more than 30 police officers and social workers stormed the home of the Wunderlich family in August 2013. The authorities brutally removed the children from their parents and their home, leaving the family traumatized. The children were ultimately returned to their parents, but their legal status remained unclear. After courts in Germany ruled in favor of the government, the European Court of Human Rights agreed to take up the case in August 2016. The family still has the option of bringing the case to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, the highest level of the court.

“This ruling ignores the fact that Germany’s policy on homeschooling violates the rights of parents to educate their children and direct their upbringing. It is alarming to see that this was not recognized by the most influential human rights court in Europe. This ruling is a step in the wrong direction and should concern anyone who cares about freedom,” said Paul Coleman, executive director of ADF International.

“This judgement is a huge setback, but we will not give up the fight to protect the fundamental right of parents to homeschool their children in Germany and across Europe,” added Mike Donnelly, international homeschooling expert and director of global outreach for the Home School Legal Defense Association.

The Wunderlichs have only been given partial custody and must send their children to a government-approved education program.

Why It Matters: Although this case is in Europe, it’s a reminder of how fragile parental rights are in America.

In 2010, a U.S. immigration judge granted political asylum to a German family who fled to America because, like the Wunderlichs, they were unable to homeschool their children. The judge ruled they had a reasonable fear of persecution for their beliefs if they returned to their homeland. The judge also denounced the German policy, saying it was, “utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans.”

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