Homeschooling parents who have been battling the government over their children’s education are heading into court today to beg permission to use some of their own money for groceries, after authorities froze their personal and business bank accounts.
Dagmar Neubronner, who with her husband, Tillman, runs a home-based publishing business and homeschools sons Moritz, 10, and Thomas, 8, told the Home School Legal Defense Association the couple got word yesterday of the lock on the accounts.
“After the bailiff/marshal could not find possessions to take away from us, today we received news that our accounts have been blocked to impound the penalty payment of 4,500 euros,” she wrote. “So our work as a publishing house is blocked, too, and we cannot withdraw money to buy food.”
As WND has reported, the fine is being imposed because the couple is unwilling to subject their sons to the grind of the daily school requirements in Germany.
Government officials determined to stamp out “parallel societies” are adamantly opposed to homeschooling in Germany, and the Neubronners case is just the latest in a string of incidents in which the HSLDA has gotten involved. In this case, the organization that promotes homeschooling worldwide already has written to Mrs. Senatorin Renate Jurgens-Pieper in Bremen, asking for a continuation of previous permission for the Neubronner family to teach their children at home.
“I understand that this family would like to homeschool their children and that while you previously allowed them to do so you are refusing to permit them to homeschool this year,” the letter from HSLDA President J. Michael Smith said.
“We also ask you to use your influence to modify the Bremen City-State [law] to make homeschooling possible for anyone who chooses it. To deny parents the right to homeschool their children is to deny them a basic and fundamental human right. Will you consider setting an example for your whole nation that respects the rights of parents and children to be home educated?”
WND has reported previously how German officials targeted an American family of Baptist missionaries for deportation because they belong to a group that refuses “to give their children over to the state school system.”
A teenager, Melissa Busekros, also returned to her family months after German authorities took her from her home and forcibly detained her in a psychiatric facility for being homeschooled.
And WND has reported on other families facing fines, frozen bank accounts and court-ordered state custody of their children for resisting Germany’s mandatory public school requirements, which by government admission are assigned to counter “the rise of parallel societies that are based on religion or motivated by different world views.”
The Neubronner sons had not fared well in Montessori or experimental schools “for a variety of reasons including the bus rides, the noise in the classrooms, and lack of challenging material, and a failure to connect with the kids in the school.”
But school officials in Bremen have ordered the parents to force their sons into the public school. Their failure produced the fine, which authorities already had sought to collect by inspecting their home for items that could be confiscated and sold.
“It is unbelievable especially when you consider … there is no urgency at all,” continued Mrs. Neubronner. “The children just received good school reports and our appeal negotiations [are] still to come.”
She told the HSLDA her family is offering some help, and she hopes for some assistance from the family’s court appearance.
“By seizing the bank accounts of the Neubronners and in seeking to seize the personal property for sale, German public officials have yet again demonstrated a colossal disregard for their citizen’s basic human rights,” Michael P. Donnelly, a staff counsel for HSLDA, told WND.
“The Neubronners are decent hardworking citizens who are sincerely doing what is in the best interests of their children and do not deserve this kind of harsh treatment. These outrageous and disproportionate actions are rooted in laws that date back to the darkest days of recent German history. With Slovakia and Romania now making positive changes to legalize homeschooling, Germany stands out as a dark shadow in Europe as an oppressor of this basic human right.”
“Even the United Nations has called on Germany to reform the way it treats homeschoolers. We appeal to the German people and German leadership to do what is right and to protect rather than attack families who choose to homeschool their children,” he said.
In the case involving Melissa Busekros, a German appeals court ultimately ordered legal custody of the teenager who was taken from her home by a police squad and detained in a psychiatric hospital for being homeschooled be returned to her family because she no longer is in danger.
The lower court’s ruling had ordered police officers to take Melissa – then 15 – from her home, if necessary by force, and place her in a mental institution for a variety of evaluations. She was kept in custody from early February until April, when she turned 16 and under German law was subject to different laws.
At that point she simply walked away from the foster home where she had been required to stay and returned home.
Wolfgang Drautz, consul general for the Federal Republic of Germany, has commented on the issue on a blog, noting the government “has a legitimate interest in countering the rise of parallel societies that are based on religion or motivated by different world views and in integrating minorities into the population as a whole.”
Drautz said homeschool students’ test results may be as good as for those in school, but “school teaches not only knowledge but also social conduct, encourages dialogue among people of different beliefs and cultures, and helps students to become responsible citizens.”
The German government’s defense of its “social” teachings and mandatory public school attendance was clarified during an earlier dispute on which WND reported, when a German family wrote to officials 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.”
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