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February 7, 2011

Family Facing Legal Difficulties in Spain

In December 2010, the Constitutional Court in Spain denied parents the right to homeschool and ruled that parents must send their children to school. Yet the court also stated that homeschooling is not “illegal.” In its decision, the court invited the Spanish legislature to write legislation concerning alternative education options, specifically, home education.

While the precise effect of this ruling is uncertain, it has already impacted several other homeschool families in Spain. HSLDA is assisting the national homeschool association in Spain, the Asociación por la Libre Educación (ALE), to raise awareness for a family that has recently encountered trouble from the authorities.

Here is a statement from ALE:

You can provide immense help to a family facing legal difficulties in Spain, where the home education situation is unregulated and families can run into problems. Your support will help to show that there is an international homeschool movement—in the United States, the European Union, and elsewhere—and that homeschooling is an educational option worldwide.

Action Requested

Please consider sending the following message to the judge who will hear the family’s case:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing concerning the prosecution of Marcelo López de Arana and María Elena Sanz. These parents have chosen to homeschool their son, Pablo López de Arana Sanz. Authorities have alleged that this choice is equal to educational neglect despite evidence that the family is homeschooling. Homeschooling is not prohibited by Spanish law, and Article 27.3 of the Spanish Constitution guarantees parents the right to choose the education system of their children according to their principles and beliefs. This right is also recognized in Article 26 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Spanish courts have previously recognized homeschooling as a lawful educational alternative. In sentence 1669/1994, October 30, 1994, the Supreme Court held that the constitutional requirement of the right to education was compatible with homeschooling. In the Basque Region Court Case 2 of Vitoria, January 31, 2005 (136/04) homeschooling was ruled as a legitimate educational option. In that case, the court found that homeschooling is a growing education movement all over the world. The Branson-Sánchez and Sestayo families in 2008 and 2009 were recognized by the courts. Both of these cases won their right to homeschool in front of the District Attorney in the Basque Region of Spain.

Please drop the charges against this family and support their right to homeschool their children.


[Your Name and Country]

Mail, fax, or email letters to:

Juzgado de instrucción n° 1 de Vitoria-Gasteiz.
C/ Avenida Gasteiz n° 18
3ª planta, Vitoria
Fax: (34) 945 00 48 50

A stamp for a standard weight letter to Spain will cost $0.98 through the U.S. Postal Service.


Prior to the December ruling, homeschoolers in Spain had argued that homeschooling was not prohibited, and they pointed to court sentences that allowed homeschooling to fulfill compulsory education requirements. Education in Spain is regulated by the LOE (Organic Law 2/2006 from May 3 on Education) and the LODE (Organic Law 8/1985 regulating the right to education). In particular, Article 4 of the LODE protects the right of parents to “choose a school different from those created by governmental authorities.” Also, the Spanish Constitution (Article 27) gives parents the right to have their children receive “religious and moral formation in keeping with their own convictions.”

However, the December ruling states that compulsory education as enshrined in Spanish law means homeschooling is not explicitly permitted, but that it is an affirmative requirement that parents must send their children to school.

The positive side of the ruling is that the Court states that homeschooling is not illegal in and of itself, but that the current education law does not provide a legal basis for parents to homeschool. The Court’s invitation to the legislature to change the situation gives homeschoolers a unique opportunity to encourage lawmakers to take up the issue and follow the advice of their country’s highest court to craft a positive homeschool law.

HSLDA will continue to monitor the situation in Spain. Please also support Spanish homeschoolers through prayer: that ALE and its members will have wisdom while advocating for a positive homeschool law, and that homeschoolers would be winsome and effective in their communication with the Spanish legislature.