Officials in Sweden announced a $3,000 fine for a couple homeschooling their son then barred them from a court hearing on the dispute.
Word of the latest attack on parents dissatisfied with government-run public schools in the free world who choose to educate their own children comes from the Home School Legal Defense Association.
This week’s report is about the dispute experienced by the “R” family with their local municipality, Partille, in southwestern Sweden. Their identities were being obscured over their concern over retaliation.
Homeschooling in Sweden has been in the news in recent weeks with the Johansson case. Social workers had police officers forcibly take custody of Dominic Johansson, who was being homeschooled while his parents prepared for a move to India. Most recently, a judge ruled social workers will continue to have custody of the boy.
The decision in the Johansson case by Judge Peter Freudenthal was reported by the Home School Legal Defense Association, which with the help of international attorneys working with the Alliance Defense Fund already has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights for help reuniting the family.
Annie and Dominic Johansson
Dominic Johansson was seized from his parents June 25, 2009, because he was being homeschooled, had a few untreated cavities in his teeth and had not been given the latest vaccinations scheduled by the government.
Since then, he’s been allowed a brief visit with his parents, sometimes five weeks apart, and at other times a brief, monitored telephone call.
In the newest case, the HSLDA said that the municipal officials rejected the family’s request for homeschooling permission, then ruled that the family should not get a court hearing to argue their case.
“This action ignores basic principles of fairness and due process that are well established in Western nations. This behavior asserts the power of the Swedish state in a way that is increasingly punitive toward those who deviate from the ‘norm,'” an analysis of the case by HSLDA said.
The authorities had rejected the family’s homeschool request last year “despite the fact that [the ‘R’ family] have successfully educated their son … at home for the past six years.”
“It appears that the municipality based this decision solely upon its prejudiced views of homeschooling as ‘inadequate’ and even ‘harmful’ to children. These views have been repeated in other judicial decisions in Sweden,” the organization reported.
The fines stem from the government’s orders to the family last year to put their son in school immediately and the parents’ refusal to comply while they were arguing their case in court.
“Fines are for people who act illegally, not for law-abiding citizens,” Mrs. “R” told the organization. “Our child is going to school. It would be different with parents who don’t take their child to any school. That is where they can use fines.”
Mike Donnelly, the HSLDA director of international affairs, said the municipality’s “denial of the [family’s] due-process rights is the most recent action by Swedish officials that reveals a blatant agenda to persecute homeschoolers as a specific social group.”
“These officials are attempting to take away basic due-process rights like access to an impartial hearing for each denial of their rights. This practice of denying individuals their legal right to due process shows that Sweden is on a dangerous path heading towards tyranny,” he said.
“By denying due process like this, Sweden has departed from a system of law that safeguards the rights of the individual,” he said. “Both of these cases, and many others like these, call into question the basic fairness of the Swedish legal process. Decisions such as these, regarding homeschoolers and others where the state overpowers the rights of individuals to squelch ‘dissent,’ are frightening and echo Germany’s treatment of homeschoolers,” he said.
Germany is notorious in its treatment of homeschoolers as criminals, and the U.S. has granted asylum to a German homeschool family.