European court rejects German couple’s home-schooling appeal

BERLIN (AP) – The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday rejected the appeal of a German couple who have been fighting for years to home-school their kids, saying the government was within its rights to temporarily remove their children.

Home-schooling is illegal in Germany and the Strasbourg, France-based court noted it had already upheld that law in previous decisions.

But Dirk and Petra Wunderlich, who are in their early 50s, had argued their rights to privacy of home and family life were violated by Hesse state authorities when their four children were taken from them in 2013. They were returned three weeks later after the couple agreed to send them to school.

In an unanimous decision, however, the court found that there “were ‘relevant and sufficient’ reasons for the withdrawal of some parts of the parents’ authority, and the temporary removal of the children from their family home”.

Robert Clarke, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF, a United States (US)-based Christian legal advocacy group, who argued the Wunderlichs’ case, said the Darmstadt couple was considering an appeal.

“Petra and Dirk Wunderlich simply wanted to educate their children in line with their convictions and decided their home environment would be the best place for this,” he said in a statement.

The couple’s children, whose names weren’t released in line with privacy laws, are now 19, 18, 16 and 13. When the eldest reached school age in 2005, they refused to register her in a school, paying regulatory fines and accepting court decisions against them, but without changing their behavior.

Undated photo provided by ADF International on Thursday shows the German Wunderlich family. – AP