Last January 2019, a Germany family’s long enduring struggle in legally assert their right to home school their children ended, but not in the family’s favor. The final verdict was handed down by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), who did not find fault with the German government’s method of imposing the country’s nationwide ban on homeschooling.
Back in August 2013, seven (7) social workers accompanied by thirty-three (33) police officers showed up at the home of the Wunderlich family; with threats of force opening the door if the Wunderlich parents refused to let the social workers take away their four (4) children. The action was taken because Dirk and Petra Wunderlich wanted to maintain their right to educate their children at home, in the same way as millions of parents do in other countries.
Although the Wunderlich children were later returned to their parents, the family had to agree to enroll their children at the local public school.Still, Dirk and Petra continued to wage their battle against the law that prohibits them from making decisions on how to educate their children. Perhaps with the encouragement of those who also want to gain freedom to choose the alternative method of education afforded to parents in other countries.
As the turn of events has it, the Wunderlichs have no other option but to abide by their country’s ban on homeschooling.
How the ECHR Ruled on the Wunderlich’s Legal Challenge to Germany’s Homeschooling Ban
In a 16-page ruling, the ECHR stated that Germany’s removal of the Wunderlich’s children from their home is not a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, re: right to respect private and family life.
Although the children were removed from the Wunderlich home, the 3-week duration was not deemed by the ECHR, as longer than what was necessary.
The temporary removal of the Wunderlich children from the care of Dirk and Petra was ruled as relevant to the rationale behind Germany’s homeschooling ban. As argued by the lawyers who represented the German state, the reason why Germany does not allow homeschooling is because the country wants to prevent the potential emergence of “parallel societies.”
In the case of the Wunderlich family, the ECHR noted the refusal of Dirk and Petra in 2012 and 2013 to cooperate with the state’s youth office, in conducting a learning assessment of their children.