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Home School Legal Defense Association
P.O. Box 3000, Purcellville, VA 20134

For Immediate Release
July 10, 2019 (540) 338-5600

European Court Rejects Homeschooling Appeal as German Court Delivers Good News

July 10, 2019

Thanks to a court ruling that may mark a legal turning point, German homeschool parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich no longer face the immediate threat of having their children taken by the state—again. The ruling counterbalances news that the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has rejected the Wunderlichs’ appeal from the lower chamber’s decision. In that decision, the court determined that the authorities’ seizure of their children solely because the children were homeschooled did not violate the family’s rights.

The Grand Chamber rejected the appeal with no explanation.

HSLDA and ADF International stood alongside the Wunderlich family to appeal the lower court’s January ruling. The lower court recognized that “the knowledge level of the children was not alarming and the children were not being kept from school against their will.” Despite these facts, the ECHR determined that the 2013 raid of the Wunderlichs’ home, in which over 20 police officers forcibly removed their children, was permissible.

Dirk Wunderlich expressed his frustration with the Grand Chamber’s refusal to reconsider this ruling. “To say our human rights were not violated when our children were violently seized just because we homeschooled makes a mockery of what the court is charged with protecting.”

HSLDA Senior Counsel for Global Outreach Michael Donnelly agrees with Dirk, noting, “To rule that German authorities did not violate the Wunderlichs’ rights is outrageous. The ECHR is supposed to protect people from governments, not act as a shield for governments.”

Despite this disappointing decision, Donnelly pointed out that other recent German court decisions like the Wunderlichs’ custody battle offer a glimmer of hope.

“So far this year there have been about four cases where courts have chosen to rebuff efforts of child protective services seeking to take custody of homeschooled children. Several courts ruled that homeschooling in itself was not a danger in these particular cases. These case point to a positive development,” Donnelly says.

Dirk Wunderlich also expressed hope that Germany will recognize the right to homeschool in the future. “We are grateful for the work of our lawyers at ADF International and HSLDA. We hope German lawmakers will make changes in the coming years to recognize homeschooling. What happened to our family should never happen again,” he said.

The ECHR’s rejection of the Wunderlich’s appeal will not end HSLDA’s quest for homeschool freedom in Germany.

Donnelly promises, “HSLDA will be looking for other ways to vindicate the Wunderlichs’ rights and to pressure Germany to change its laws. Homeschooling is not a crime but is a valid exercise of the Wunderlichs’ natural and unalienable rights.”