I have longed for thy salvation, O L-RD; and thy Torah is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. Psalm 119:174-176

01 October 2013

German Homeschooling Case - The Rudolph family

Cherry blossoms - photo by J. Stahl

Today I'd like to talk about another case that had been mentioned by the HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) some years ago, without much information in the English-speaking news, if any at all.  We'll be looking at the case of the Rudolph family today.  Below is everything that I have been able to find thus far.

Most of you probably first heard of the Rudolphs in September of 2006:

The Rudolph family: They are diligently homeschooling their six  children in Hamburg. The father, Andre, was jailed for a week for  refusing to send his children to public school... for  homeschooling ....and ...been fined 840 euros ($1,090)...
...the authorities tried a new weapon and began  to forcibly take the children to public school each day...
..One day, however, the authorities came to take the children to school,  but no one answered the door. The Rudolphs fled to another country...
HSLDA, E-lert 9/22/2006

Or perhaps, you read about them in the book Indoctrination:
...The Family eventually fled to Austria in an RV to join other homeschoolers ... Although there are some families... homescholing in Germany, they do so at their own peril, knowing that they too could at any time ahve a knock on the door and suffer arrest...
Or perhaps The Raw Story or Deutsche Welle?

The odyssey of the R family... began in late 2001 when they took their eldest daughter... out of a private school....
... The family unsuccessfully challenged compulsory education orders in court in 2003.
The Raw Story
At first, Andre R. was fined hundreds of euros by the courts for teaching his five daughters and one son at home. ...Hamburg authorities threw the 44-year-old father in jail for a week until he agreed to enroll the children in public school. ...when officials began escorting the children to school daily and threatening to take custody of them, the family fled to Austria.
German Parents Wanting to Homeschool Turn to EU Court
Looks like the story is a rather interesting one to be honest. What one never seems to hear is what is being reported in the German news. I find this fascinating and very frustrating. While I understand the philosophical reasons for removing children from school, it has never been legal to school at home in Germany for philosophical reasons.

Supposedly, this corresponds to all God's plan. "God wants," says Frauke Rudolph "that we not send our three school-age daughters to school."
...The Rudolph's Lawyer was Gabriele Eckermann of Dreieich, Hessen. ...Her husband, Armin, also an Advocate, founded Schulunterricht zu Hause six years ago and already talked to Christians in the political party "Bibeltreuer Christen" on Ash Wednesday. The association is part of the Christian fundamentalist network Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), headquartered in Virginia, USA...
Zeit Online: Zum Teufel mit der Schule [To hell with school]

The story began in June 2001. Then, the two eldest daughters were attending an unaffiliated Christian denominational school; but their parents removed them. They are instead, relying on the Bible and on trying to keep their children away from harmful influences. The girls had experienced violence in the schoolyard, the father lamented. Moreover, they were socially exposed to children of divorce in school - "we do not want this for them."
Spiegel:  Christliche Schulverweigerer: Die Geduld ist erschöpft

[Christian truants: The [authorities'] patience is exhausted]
What is even more surprising about Andre Rudolph being put in jail for homeschooling is that he has a degree in teaching!HSLDA E-lert 9/22/2006

...When the school board learned of the removal from school, they sent ...colleagues from social services, who visited the family see if the parents need to be deprived of the custody of the children. The result: no. ...the children were fine...
 So they sent cautionary letters to parents - without success. And imposed penalties for non compliance, several times - which Frauke and André R. did not pay...
TAZ: In eure Schule geh'n wir nicht
[We're not goin' to your school]
  Frauke and André R. fear there will be bad influences on their children at school and criticize the quality of government education. Also, a free Christian School did not meet their expectations. Therefore, they want to teach their children instead.
Familienvater in Haft wegen Homeschooling

[Father in prison for Homeschooling]

...The R. family apparently lives in their own little world where the only law is the Bible...
In Hamburg , however, the compulsory education law has been in existance since 2005... The law was put in place as a response to the withdrawal from school and subsequent starvation of nine-year Jessica; who slipped through all the appropriate networks of the authorities, was locked away by her parents and died miserably.
Schule schwänzen, weil der Herr es so will
[Truants from school, because God wants it this way]

...The Hamburg case illustrates how difficult it is for the courts to enforce the compulsory education if parents boycott on religious grounds and rely on their faith and conscience....
For the German compulsory education is not only important whether children are taught, but also how, where and by whom...
Spiegel:  Fromme Familie: Schulboykotteur muss ins Gefängnis 
[Pious Family: School boycotter sentenced to jail]
 ...They've also appeared before the Federal Constitutional Court. In February, the parents had been sentenced to pay a fine for violating the compulsory school laws. The judge charged them for seeking to isolate their children in the idealist world the parents [were seeking to construct].
Schulverweigerer in Hamburg abgemeldet
[Truants moved away from Hamburg]

 I don't have much I can add to this story at this point. I'm simply sharing what I've found, and if anyone has any news that could be added to this, I'll be happy to disseminate it so that others can see what the Rudolph family has been fighting for exactly.

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