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12/2/2003 10:25:38 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Urgent Need to Help German Homeschoolers Under Attack

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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December 2, 2003

Homeschoolers in Germany are facing a crisis and need our prayers and
financial support. Two recent court decisions have ruled against
homeschool families and as a result many families are in hiding. The
situation has become desperate.

The United States has been blessed for many years with the freedom to
homeschool. Other countries do not have such freedoms. If we do not
help "the least of these" in other nations, who will help them?
Please take a moment and read the paragraphs below and see if you can
donate to the homeschoolers' cause in Germany.

Two years ago HSLDA helped the German homeschoolers start their own
legal defense group, Schulunterricht zu Hause. However, it needs
support to fund cases, hire full-time help, and promote homeschooling
in Germany. All donations sent to HSLDA's Home School Foundation,
earmarked for Germany, will be sent directly to Schulunterricht zu
Hause for the defense of homeschoolers.


German Homeschoolers Held in Double Jeopardy

In April of 2003, Schulunterricht zu Hause attorney Gabriele
Eckermann successfully represented the Bauer family, who had been
charged with disregarding the mandatory school attendance laws in the
Criminal Court of the Amtsgericht Alsfeld, Hessen. This victory was
the first formal recognition of the validity of homeschooling in
Germany.

In the United States, people who are acquitted of a crime are no
longer in jeopardy of being charged for that same crime, its called
double jeopardy. Unfortunately, this is not the law in Germany and
the state can appeal the decision of a lower court. Even though the
Bauer family won their case, the state appealed.

The second trial, in the higher court, did not go so well. The judge
ruled that the mandatory school law must be recognized and that there
is no exception for reasons of conscience or religion!

Below are excerpts from an article written after the decision in the
Giessener Allgemeine, Nov. 6, 2003.

"In a case concerning the mandatory school attendance of their
children, Bible believing parents from Gemuenden/Felda were
reprimanded by the court. The State Court in Giessen sentenced the
parents of eight children to pay a fine of 400 euro. 'If during the
next two years the parents again violate the mandatory school
attendance law, they will need to pay an additional 800 euro,' said
the presiding Judge. With that, the court overturned a surprising
acquittal by the Administrative Court in Alsfield.

"'Public school is unavoidable,' declared the judge. 'It is up to the
administrative authorities to enforce the school attendance in the
future,' said Attorney General Volker Uhl. The court sided with the
prosecution in their ruling. The parents, Sigrid and Michael Bauer
from Vogelsberg, complained that public schools undermine their
Christian educational values, such as modesty and obedience to
parents. Because of this, they have been teaching their five school
age children at home for more than two years. All eight children of
the couple -- ranging from 10 months to 16 years old -- were present
at the hearing. What especially disturbs the parents is the
"exclusive" transmission of the theory of evolution and the alleged
"constant confrontation" with the topic of sexuality.

The defense, which brought the case to a standstill by filing a flood
of petitions, asked for another acquittal. "By sending their children
to school, they disobey God's word," declared Attorney Gabriele
Eckermann of Schulunterricht zu Hause "Their relationship with God is
thereby disturbed." Sexual education in particular leads to an "early
sexualisation" of students. Schulunterricht zu Hause is appealing the
case to Upper State Court in Frankfurt.


Konrad Case Appealed to European Court of Human Rights

Another Schulunterricht zu Hause member homeschool family, the
Konrads, lost their final appeal before Germany's highest federal
court.

HSLDA is financially and strategically assisting their attorney,
constitutional lawyer Ronald Reichert, appeal the case to the
European Court of Human Rights.


Plea for Help from German Homeschoolers

Richard and Ingrid Guenther, German homeschool leaders and members of
the board of Schulunterricht zu Hause, indicate the situation is
desperate.

"We have several families that we know of who are in hiding. Surely
there are many more by now. It is becoming clear how the Jews must
have felt under Hitler. Two families have been separated for more
than a year now. The fathers live in one state of Germany where they
have their home and the mothers and children hide out in another
state with family and friends. They see each other only on weekends.
They hope to be reunited one day in their homes when homeschooling is
legalized. As for now, both parents have lost custody of their
children during school hours. That means that they are subject to a
guardian ordered by the government who has the duty to bring them to
school -- even by police.

"Let me give you an example of another family. The mother and
children had to relocate to Austria and the father remained in
Germany where he had his own business. He was forced to give up his
business and move to his family in Austria where they live now on a
bare minimum income. Even after their children were registered in a
regular Austrian school, the German court continued to harass them.
They lost partial custody of their children (during school hours)
even though they had left Germany -- which will take effect upon
entering Germany again."

Now the Guenthers themselves have been contacted by a social worker
and are being questioned by the school authorities regarding their
homeschool!

Many homeschoolers in the United States have forgotten the terror of
being taken to jail for exercising their God-given responsibility to
homeschool. We have been able to legalize homeschooling in all fifty
states. We have demonstrated over time that homeschoolers, on the
average, perform above average in standardized tests, college
entrance examinations, and are successful in college, the military
and the workforce. But our freedom to homeschool was not free. Many
families had to sacrifice in order to legalize homeschooling in the
1980s and 90s.

German homeschoolers are facing this battle right now. It is vital
that we in America, who have been given so much, rally around these
families and lift up the homeschooling movement in Germany.

We are asking Home School Legal Defense Association members to pray
for the Bauers, the Konrads, Guenthers, and other unnamed families
who are suffering for their decision to homeschool. Additionally, we
are asking for families to consider donating financial support for
the cause of freedom in Germany. You can send donations to the Home
School Foundation, earmarked for German homeschoolers. Please go to
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=1211 . We will send the donations
on to Schulunterricht zu Hause to help with advising homeschoolers,
negotiating with school districts, funding cases and appeals, paying
fines, and defending the rights of homeschoolers in whatever way
necessary.

For more information on the home schooling situation in Germany and
history, visit our web site at:

http://www.hslda.org/hs/international/Germany/default.asp

Thank you for your prayerful involvement.


Sincerely,


Chris Klicka
Senior Counsel
Home School Legal Defense Association



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