Tag Archives: Home School Legal Defense Association

German Homeschoolers Asylum: Home School Legal Defense petitions US Supreme Court

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HSLDA_LogoPURCELLVILLE, Va., Oct. 10, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ — Today the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is filing a petition with the United States Supreme Court to hear Romeike v. Holder, the German homeschooling asylum case.

In April 2013, a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sustained the Obama Administration’s revocation of asylum granted to the family in 2010.

The original immigration judge, Lawrence O. Burman, granted the Romeike family asylum on January 26, 2010, under the Federal Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) because Germany’s national policy of suppressing homeschooling violated their religious faith and because German authorities were improperly motivated to suppress homeschoolers as a social group.

In its ruling against the Romeikes, the Sixth Circuit rejected the judge’s findings, stating that Germany’s harsh treatment of homeschoolers did not amount to persecution and that the German authorities were not motivated by an improper purpose.

HSLDA Chairman and principal author of the petition, Michael Farris, said that the Court should intervene for the sake of justice.

“The United States should be a place of asylum for those who are persecuted because of their decision to follow their core religious beliefs,” he said.  “Parents, not the government, decide first how children are educated. Germany’s notorious persecution of families who homeschool violates their own obligations to uphold human rights standards and must end.”

Farris argues that there is a clear split in the treatment of human rights standards among federal circuits and that there is confusion among the circuits about how to determine when a law that applies to everyone and doesn’t appear discriminatory can still be used to persecute certain groups.

“In virtually all other circuits,” Farris said, “the Romeikes’ chances of success would have been decisively higher. But in this case, the Sixth Circuit created a new standard that dramatically departs from its own, as well as the Supreme Court’s, jurisprudence in U.S. asylum law. The Supreme Court needs to settle this area of law.”

This case is important to HSLDA’s mission to advance freedom for persecuted homeschoolers, said Director of International Relations Michael Donnelly.

“Germany’s clear violations of human rights standards in the area of homeschooling have been going on for over a decade,” he said. “German authorities recently seized the Wunderlich children and are prosecuting others — seeking outrageous jail terms — just because of homeschooling. Germany’s repression of homeschooling freedom is infecting other European nations and our country should send a message that the United States will provide a refuge for victims of persecution even from ostensibly free democratic countries like Germany.”

Without minimizing the reality of physical persecution and other types of human rights violations in other countries, HSLDA argues that the imposition of crushing fines, seizure of children, and disproportionate criminal penalties over homeschooling amount to persecution. The brief argues that the German Supreme Court’s explicit approval for unequal treatment of homeschoolers for religious or philosophical reasons clearly violates human rights standards that the United States must recognize.

The petition places considerable reliance on the statements of the highest courts in Germany that explain that the purpose of the repression of homeschoolers was to prevent “religious and philosophical minorities” from developing into “parallel societies.”

Human rights standards make it plain that, although a nation may require compulsory attendance and may impose reasonable rules related to educational quality, no nation my exercise philosophical control over a child’s education contrary to the parent’s beliefs. “These human rights protections were written in response to Germany’s practices in the Nazi era,” Farris added. “It is impossible to distinguish the German desire for philosophical conformity today from that of the 1930s. Children do not belong to any government in any decade.”

Sweden Crushing Homeschoolers

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Jan. 17, 2012  — A leader of Sweden’s Liberal Party last week called for a change in the country’s social services law so that the government can take children away from home-schooling families more easily by allowing social workers to do so.

The call for the change comes amidst already stringent penalties in Sweden for home schooling. The Home School Legal Defense Association and Alliance Defense Fund and have applied to the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of one family whose child was abducted by the government in 2009 and have filed a brief in a Swedish appellate court on behalf of another family fined an amount equivalent to $26,000.

“The right of parents to choose the kind of education their children receive is a fundamental human right recognized in international legal documents including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sweden has lost its way and is ignoring basic human rights joining Germany in repressing educational freedom. It’s important that free people stand up to governments who persecute their own people,” said Donnelly

“Parents have the right and authority to make decisions regarding their children’s education without government interference,” said ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska. “Swedish policy on home education is at odds with recognized international legal standards that uphold the right of parents to direct the education of their children.”

Liberal Party politician Lotta Edholm called for the change to the country’s social services law in a Jan. 10 column in Aftonbladet, a prominent Swedish newspaper. Edholm then wrote on her blog: “Today I write with Ann-Katrin Aslund on Aftonbladet’s debate page that the social services law should be amended so that social services are able to intervene when children are kept away from school by their parents — often for religious or ideological reasons.”

The statement is the most direct and serious threat to date for home-schooling families in the Nordic country, where the climate for home-schooling has continued to deteriorate. The Swedish Court of Appeal has agreed to review three different cases in which government officials denied permission to home-school.

“ADF and HSLDA will continue to defend home-schooling families in Sweden and other European countries until we win,” Donnelly said.

Homeschool Parents to Lose Children Permanently

PURCELLVILLE, Va., Oct. 12, 2011 — Swedish officials on the Island of Gotland are seeking to terminate the parental rights of homeschool parents Christer and Annie Johansson. The latest development in this monumental homeschool rights case started when the state seized the parents seven year old son in June 2009. Domenic, now 9 years old, has been held in state foster care for more than 24 months.

News of these developments does not sit well in the homeschool community. “The United States Supreme Court has called the termination of parental rights the family court equivalent of the death penalty,” notes Michael Donnelly, Director of International Relations at the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).

Seven-year old Domenic Johansson was snatched by Swedish police in June 2009 from an airplane bound for India, his Mother’s homeland. Among the reasons given for the seizure was that Domenic was homeschooled. Since then his entire family has been denied virtually any contact with their son. HSLDA and the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) filed a joint application on behalf of the Johansson family at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in June 2010 and have been working to support the family since shortly after Domenic’s seizure.

Both ADF and HSLDA are currently asking for letters to be written in an attempt to renew attention to the family’s case and to encourage Swedish officials to release Domenic back to his family.

“The government shouldn’t abduct and imprison children simply because it doesn’t like homeschooling.  That’s bad enough. But now the state is going even further by attempting to get the parents out of the way altogether,” said ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska. “This simply cannot stand.  We will do everything in our power to help reunite this family.”