Two parents are facing a fourth sentencing hearing for their convictions for teaching their own children at home, according to a homeschool advocacy organization that monitors such developments around the world.
Juergen and Rosemarie Dudek are facing another court date in Germany on Thursday for the “criminal offense” of teaching their children at home, according to officials with the Home School Legal Defense Association.
At their first hearing they were fined, and then at a second hearing in 2008, they were ordered to serve three-month prison terms when a prosecutor insisted he was unhappy with fines and wanted them in jail.
At a later hearing in 2009, however, a judge spared them the jail time and fined the couple $181, despite arguments from the prosecutor that only jail is a deterrent to homeschooling families.
According to a new statement the HSLDA, the Dudeks are to return to court Thursday for yet another sentencing.
“The Dudeks have endured threats of stiff fines and prison sentences as German authorities have doggedly pursued them for nearly five years. In July 2008, a judge sentenced Mr. and Mrs. Dudek to 90 days in jail each for homeschooling. This prison sentence overturned a previous ruling from a lower court that had fined the family an outrageous sum of 900 euros (about $1,200),” said the HSLDA report.
“Their last hearing took place in November 2009, when an appeals court overturned the couple’s jail sentences. Although the judge recognized that the family was doing a fine job in educating their children, he still found them guilty under the German state of Hessen’s criminal law and imposed a fine of 120 euros.”
The new hearing is because the court has decided after the fact that instead of a combined sentence, each parent must be sentenced individually, according to HSLDA.
“The court has stated that instead of the combined sentence placed upon them in 2009, Juergen and Rosemarie Dudek must receive individual sentences for each child that has been taught at home,” the HSLDA reported.
The family from Archfield had been targeted by a prosecutor identified as Herwig Mueller, who asserted that jail is the only sufficient punishment for the family’s “crime.”
At the time of the first sentencing hearing, the prosecutor told the family, “You don’t have to worry about the fine, because I will send you to jail.”
The case has been just one of many that have developed in Germany, which represses homeschooling activities based on a Nazi-era ban on homeschooling. That was imposed when Hitler decided none but the state should be allowed to decide what to teach children.
Practical Homeschool Magazine has noted one of the first acts by Hitler when he moved into power was to create the governmental Ministry of Education and give it control of all schools and school-related issues.
In 1937, the dictator said, “The youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow. For this reason we have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of this community of the people at a very early age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted and therefore unspoiled. This Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.”
Wolfgang Drautz, consul general for the Federal Republic of Germany, commented previously on the issue, contending the government “has a legitimate interest in countering the rise of parallel societies that are based on religion.”
Drautz said schools teach socialization, and as WND reported, that is important, as evident in the government’s response when a German family in another case wrote objecting to police officers picking their child up at home and delivering him to a public school.
“The minister of education does not share your attitudes toward so-called homeschooling,” said a government letter in response. “You complain about the forced school escort of primary school children by the responsible local police officers. … In order to avoid this in future, the education authority is in conversation with the affected family in order to look for possibilities to bring the religious convictions of the family into line with the unalterable school attendance requirement.”
In recent years Germany has established a reputation for cracking down on parents who object, for reasons ranging from religious to social, to the nation’s public school indoctrination of their children.
WND has reported several times on custody battles, children being taken into custody and families even fleeing Germany because of the situation.
One of the higher-profile cases on which WND has reported was that of a teen who was taken by police to the psychiatric ward because she was homeschooled.
The courts ruled it was appropriate for a judge to order police officers to take Melissa Busekros, 15 at the time, into custody in January 2007.
Officials later declined to re-arrest her after she turned 16. She was subject to different requirements and simply fled state custody and returned to her family.
WND also recently reported that German officials, who already have forced most of the several hundred homeschool families in the nation into hiding or into court, were targeting another family.
The Home School Legal Defense Association said Thomas and Marit Schaum were ordered to appear in court on similar claims.
WND has reported on German homeschoolers who have been fined the equivalent of thousands of dollars, have been threatened with jail and have even watched their children be confined to a psychiatric hospital, diagnosed with “school phobia.”
But much of the recent homeschool news has been coming from Sweden, where authorities simply ordered police to taken into custody a young boy, Domenic Johansson, who was being homeschooled.
He remains in the custody of social workers almost two years after police forcibly took him off of an airliner which he and his family had boarded for a family move to India, his mother’s home country.