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April 28, 2011

Court Drops Charges Against Family

After several months of uncertainty, Spanish homeschoolers recently received exciting news: a local court in Vitoria-Gasteiz dropped charges of educational neglect against a Spanish homeschool family.

A Spanish homeschool organization, the Asociación por la Libre Educación (ALE) worked to publicize the family’s situation and encouraged homeschoolers in Spain and elsewhere to write to the judge who would hear their case.

“The support from around the world made all the difference,” ALE representative Daragh McInerney told HSLDA. “It showed the court that homeschooling is simply another educational option, not a dereliction of one’s parental duties.”

After a December 2010 ruling from the highest court in Spain denied two sets of parents the right to homeschool, a number of other Spaniards found themselves in the middle of court cases. While the ruling recognized the need for legislation to protect alternative educational options such as homeschooling, the court determined that no such law currently exists in Spain. Social workers immediately began to press families to enroll their children in school. If families did not comply, the authorities threatened to refer cases to the courts on the basis of abandonment and educational neglect.

Amid this uncertain legal environment, homeschoolers in Spain are grateful for the support of families around the world.

“The local court has asked us to spread the word that the family’s case is over, so they will stop receiving letters and faxes—hundreds have arrived,” says McInerney. “Hopefully there will be more good news on the way soon for other families facing legal proceedings.”

In addition to the case before the Vitoria-Gasteiz court, two other cases against homeschooling were shelved last month. ALE will continue to publicize these positive developments and support the homeschool community in Spain.

Michael Donnelly, HSLDA’s director of international relations, thanks all who advocated on behalf of Spanish homeschoolers and wrote to the judge.

“Your letters and emails helped to show Spanish authorities that homeschoolers in Spain are not alone, but are part of a worldwide movement of parents who are choosing to teach their children at home,” Donnelly said.