European court rejects German couple's home-schooling appeal - By DAVID RISING (Do your children belong to DaState?)
BERLIN (AP) — The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday
rejected the appeal of a German couple who have been fighting for years to home
school their kids, saying the government was within its rights to temporarily
remove their children.
is illegal in Germany and the Strasbourg, France-based court noted it had
already upheld that law in previous decisions.
But Dirk and
Petra Wunderlich, who are in their early 50s, had argued their rights to
privacy of home and family life were violated by Hesse state authorities when
their four children were taken from them in 2013. They were returned three
weeks later after the couple agreed to send them to school.
In a unanimous
decision, however, the court found that there “were ‘relevant and sufficient’
reasons for the withdrawal of some parts of the parents’ authority, and the
temporary removal of the children from their family home.”
an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF, a U.S.-based Christian
legal advocacy group, who argued the Wunderlichs’ case, said the Darmstadt
couple was considering an appeal.
“Petra and Dirk
Wunderlich simply wanted to educate their children in line with their
convictions and decided their home environment would be the best place for
this,” he said in a statement.
children, whose names weren’t released in line with privacy laws, are now 19,
18, 16 and 13. When the eldest reached school age in 2005, they refused to
register her in a school, paying regulatory fines and accepting court decisions
against them, but without changing their behavior.
Between 2008 and
2011 they lived abroad with their children, and then returned to Germany. In
2012, the Darmstadt family court withdrew the Wunderlichs’ right to determine
their children’s place of residence and right to take decisions on school
matters and transferred those rights to the youth office.
the children were taken from them on Aug. 29, 2013, and placed into a
children’s home. They were returned Sept. 19, 2013, after they had been
assessed and it was determined “the knowledge level of the children was not
alarming” and the parents agreed to allow them to go to school.
attended school for the year of 2013-2014 they were again taken out of the
system, and the European court said Hesse state education officials have filed
a criminal complaint against the parents for again failing to comply with the
rules on compulsory school attendance.
The court noted
that at the time the children were taken from the couple, Dirk Wunderlich had
made statements that “he considered children to be the ‘property’ of their
parents” and that “on the information available at the time, the authorities
reasonably assumed that the children were isolated, had no contact with anyone
outside the family, and that a risk to their physical integrity existed.”
It added that
the “actual removal of the children did not last any longer than necessary in
the children’s best interest, and was also not implemented in a way which was
particularly harsh or exceptional.”
authorities struck a proportionate balance between the best interests of the
children and those of the applicants (parents), which did not fall outside the
margin of appreciation granted to the domestic authorities,” the court
called it a “disheartening day for our family” in the statement from the ADF.
“After years of
legal struggles, this is extremely frustrating for us and our children,” he