December 9, 2019

Government chases homeschool family

Mom, dad now seek help from human rights tribunal

http://worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=68432
© 2008 WorldNetDaily

Members of a homeschooling German family who made a forced move to Austria where the activity remains legal now have fled again – this time to Canada – to escape continuing government actions that now also are the subject of a protest lodged at the European Court of Human Rights.

The case involving Andreas and Katharina Plett is being addressed by Joel Thornton, chief of the International Human Rights Group, who alleges Germany is violating articles 8, 9, 10, 14, and 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights with its persecution of homeschooling families.

The Paderborn family is among several in Germany who have challenged that nation’s Nazi-era ban on parents teaching their children at home. Thornton told WND in the Pletts’ case, one of the government maneuvers gave the authority to determine where the Pletts’ two youngest children live to the Youth Welfare Office.

It happened because of their homeschooling. According to a Brussels Journal report at the time, a plain-clothes policewoman rang the Pletts’ doorbell early one day, and when Katharina Plett opened the door, a team of officers who had concealed themselves forced their way in.

Katharina was able to notify her husband by telephone since he and the children were not at home, and instead of returning they traveled directly to Austria and set up a residence.

However, German authorities continue to try to impose their requirements on the family, since they still own property in Germany, and the Pletts now are challenging not only the authority to decide where the children will live but the other decisions in their case as well.

“About a month ago the family fled to Canada to be together without fear of government officials taking their children,” Thornton told WND about the family.

“Though the court has been unwilling to uphold international law in regards to parents’ rights in educational matters it is our hope that the court will look at the number of families continuing to have problems and decide to take the initiative to enforce the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights that are currently being violated by the German courts,” Thornton said.

The earlier decision came in the now-infamous Konrad case. There, the same court concluded that Germany’s ban on homeschooling – in place since the Nazis reigned – does not violate the convention’s religious rights provision, finding that it was important for the nation to avoid parallel societies created by religious groups.

The new case raises that issue, but several others as well.

“The Plett family has suffered the deprivation of their rights guaranteed under Article 8 of the Convention in that respect for their private and family life has been violated without demonstrated necessity for national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, the prevention of disorder or crime, the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others,” the complaint, filed on Friday, says.

It also alleges violations of Article 9 in that their “religious convictions” have been violated and Article 10 violations involving “freedom of expression, particularly the freedom to impart information and ideas without interference by public authorities.”

Further, the court action alleges Germany is discriminating against them based on their religious convictions and under Protocol 1, Article 2 in that “in the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the state shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religions and philosophical convictions.”

“The Plett family is asking this court to overturn the decision of all the German courts and declare that the state took improper custody of their children while exercising their rights. … The Plett family asks this court to clarify that the rights guaranteed under Articles 8, 9, 10 and 14 are not subject to governmental intervention without clear and convincing evidence that homeschooling their children would rise to the level of violating the interferences regulated by the Convention. That is not the case here,” the appeal said.

The action also seeks a cancellation of all fines imposed by Germany and the recovery of all costs.

Thornton told WND the children continue to live with the family only because the state Youth Welfare Office never has exercised its authority to determine where they are required to live. Such situations are not unusual in Germany. However, they create huge complications for families doing any traveling.

The Pletts have their roots in Germany but had been living in Russia before returning. They decided to homeschool after the parents” perceived a negative influence of the public school onto their children.”

It was in 2005 when German authorities ordered decisions about the children’s residence given to the Youth Welfare Office without a hearing. The result was the family’s sudden move to Austria. Their further move came after Germany continued to try to exercise control of the family even while living in Austria.

In 2006, the Strasbourg, France-based court ruled in the Konrad case. In that dispute, Fritz and Marianna Konrad, who argued Germany’s compulsory school attendance endangered their children’s religious upbringing and promotes teaching inconsistent with the family’s Christian faith, were told they did not have a case.

The court said the Konrads belong to a “Christian community which is strongly attached to the Bible” and rejected public schooling because of the explicit sexual indoctrination programs that the courses there include.

The German court already had ruled that the parental “wish” to have their children grow up in a home without such influences “could not take priority over compulsory school attendance.” The decision also said the parents do not have an “exclusive” right to lead their children’s education.

“The parents’ right to education did not go as far as to deprive their children of that experience,” the decision said. “Not only the acquisition of knowledge, but also the integration into and first experience with society are important goals in primary school education. The German courts found that those objectives cannot be equally met by home education even if it allowed children to acquire the same standard of knowledge as provided for by primary school education.”

A website for the Practical Homeschool Magazine 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.”

WND has reported multiple times on German’s attack on homeschoolers, including earlier this summer when a judge handed down three-month prison sentences for two homeschooling parents.

The sentences for Juergen and Rosemarie Dudek came in Germany’s equivalent of a district court in the state of Hesse, according to a staff attorney for the Home School Legal Defense Association. The group, the premier homeschooling advocacy organization in the world, has been monitoring and helping in the Dudeks’ case since before a federal prosecutor announced his intention more than a year ago to see the parents behind bars.

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.”

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.”

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Germany-Parents losing custody for homeschooling children

http://christiannewsbulletin.wordpress.com/2008/05/12/parents-losing-custody-for-homeschooling-kids/

Parents losing custody for homeschooling children

A German couple already being threatened with jail time because they have been homeschooling their children say their nation has taken a turn for the worse, with a new federal law that gives family courts the authority to take custody of children “as soon as there is a suspicion of child abuse,” which is how that nation’s courts have defined homeschooling.“The new law is seen as a logical step in carving up family rights after a federal court had decided that homeschooling was an abuse of custody,” said a letter from Jurgen Dudek to officials with the U.S.-based Home School Legal Defense Association, an international advocacy organization in support of homeschooling.

It was about a year ago when WND reported a prosecutor in the German state of Hesse was seeking three-month prison terms for the Jurgen Dudek and his wife, Rosemarie, the parents of six children, even after they already had paid a series of fines.

Officials with Netzwork-Bildungsfreiheit, a German homeschool advocacy group, said the prosecutor, unsatisfied with the fines, wanted 90-day terms in custody for the parents.

The latest letter from the family described the new law as granting various local social services agencies vast new powers, especially the “Jugendamt” offices, which are responsible for looking into situations if there are allegations of “child abuse.”

“They have in effect been authorized to give expert evidence in court which the family judge has to follow … The withdrawal of parental custody as one of the methods for punishing ‘uncooperative’ parents thus is made even easier,” the letter said.

In recent years Germany has established a reputation for cracking down on parents who object, for reasons ranging from religious to social, to that 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.

Now comes the new law that, according to Dudek’s letter, has, “understandably, led to a kind of panic among the homeschool community in a country where ever since Hitler’s times it has been against the law to educate your offspring completely without the state.”

Mike Donnelly, a lawyer for the HSLDA who has worked on situations that have developed in Germany, said it’s not exactly clear how the law will affect the situation.

However, “the fact that Germany’s Federal Government would pass a law taking away due process when it comes to taking children away from their parents just because they are not attending school points to the sheer hostility of the German government towards homeschooling,” he told WND.

“The German Jugendamt system is under increasing scrutiny by the European Union as well as other international organizations because of the sheer numbers of custody cases in proportion to actual substantiated abuse and in relation to the overall population,” he said. “For homeschoolers, the Jugendamt represents the tip of the spear in the government’s persecution of parents who simply wish to educate their children privately at home – a freedom protected by governments of virtually all free societies.”

He said as a result of the combination of last year’s German court ruling that it is an abuse of parental rights to keep children away from public schools and the new plan, “the Jugendamt is now the most powerful and frightening force in repressing homeschooling in Germany.

“Families in Germany are being put under increasing pressure to stop homeschooling or face losing custody of their children just because they homeschool – instead many families flee the country. This reprehensible behavior violates the natural rights of parents and children and must be opposed by all free societies,” he said.

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.”

Dudek told the HSLDA that, “Without wanting to overdramatize things this move by the justice ministry … can be compared to Hitler’s law of empowerment … That law gave him a free hand to turn Germany into the dictatorship it has become so ‘famous’ for.”

“Homeschoolers will be among the first to feel the wrath of our quasi-GESTAPO for the young: there is an explicit paragraph in the law dealing with the Jugendamt’s duty to enforce ’schulpflicht,’ the ‘punishment’ for [homeschooling] automatically being the withdrawal of parental custody,” he wrote.

He said although some officials had not yet signed the law, it appeared unstoppable.

In his own family’s case, he must appear in court on June 18.

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 during January 2007.

Officials later declined to re-arrest after she simply fled state custody and returned to her family.

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….”

Drautz said schools teach socialization, and as WND reported, that is important, as evident in the government’s response when a German family 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. “… 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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