A court decision that categorized homeschooling as “child welfare endangerment” has assigned custody of two children to the government and criticized a social services agency for allowing a family to flee Germany, where homeschooling remains illegal.
The decision from the Federal High Court in Karlsruhe, Germany’s highest court, was reported by the German edition of Agence France-Presse, as well as Netwerk Bildungsfreiheit, an organization that advocates for homeschoolers against the repression in Germany.
The report did not directly identify the family involved, but described the case of two children from a homeschooling family from Paderborn.
The court found the city and its social services agencies were “obviously unsuited” to the task of enforcing mandatory public school attendance and rather than protecting against “child welfare endangerment,” the city allowed the family to move to Austria where the two children now are being educated by an “uncertified” mother.
An internet blogger’s site, Principle Discovery, which monitors some such situations, also translated the report and said the Paderborn case specifically involved issues of religious belief, but the decision also could impact another homeschooling case, from Bremen, on which WND has been reporting.
In that case, the parents have been battling the government over their children’s education for educational, competency, and cultural reasons, not necessarily religious reasons, but now have been relegated to begging a public court system for their own money to use for groceries after authorities froze both personal and business bank accounts to pay a fine for homeschooling.
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 recently got word 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 one of 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.
The report on the Paderborn case said although the family now resides in Austria and is homeschooling according to Austrian law, their legal residence remains in Germany, and the report noted the decision of the German court applies no matter where the family lives within the European Union.
The blogger reported that although the family’s name was left out of the report, the circumstances align with the case involving the “R” family. The blog reports that family made a dramatic exit from their home in Germany and now is living at a Christian resort in Austria which has helped homeschooling families flee Germany in the past.
The state intervened in the family’s education because of its expressed interests in their social development, and questioned whether the family was allowing the children to exercise the right to develop “his or her own personality.”
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.”
In the case involving Melissa, 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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