European homeschool ruling ‘ignores’ parents’ rights

STRASBOURG, France — A European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled Jan. 10 that Dirk and Petra Wunderlich’s human rights were not violated when German officials forcibly removed their four children from the family home near Darmstadt, Germany, for three weeks in 2013 because they refused to stop homeschooling.

Paul Coleman, executive director of Alliance Defending Freedom International, a legal organization that represents the Wunderlichs, called the decision “alarming” and “a step in the wrong direction [that] should concern anyone who cares about freedom.”

The Wunderlichs may appeal the decision, attorneys said.

A German court previously determined the children’s level of education “was not alarming” and they did not face a risk of physical harm at home, according to the ECHR’s ruling. Still, the Wunderlichs have no right to homeschool under the European Convention on Human Rights, the ECHR said.

Between 500–1,000 German families are believed to be homeschooling despite a 100-year old prohibition on the practice.

In a related case the Romeike family fled Germany for the U.S. in 2008 amid mounting fines and risk of losing custody of homeschooled children. The Romeikes requested asylum in the U.S. and lost their court battle, but in 2014 the Department of Homeland Security allowed them to remain in the country. (BP)