Posted on Jan 28 2010 in International Homeschooling by Anne Miller
Couple who fled to Tennessee fearing persecution for keeping their
children out of school win first case of its kind in US
A US judge has granted political asylum to a German family who said
they had fled the country to avoid persecution for home schooling their
In the first reported case of its kind, Tennessee immigration judge
Lawrence Burman ruled that the family of seven have a legitimate fear of
prosecution for their beliefs. Germany requires parents to enroll their
children in school in most cases and has levied fines against those who
educate their children at home.
Christians Uwe Romeike, a piano teacher, and his wife, Hannelore, moved
to Morristown, Tennessee, in 2008 after German authorities fined them
thousands of euros for keeping their children out of school and sent
police to escort them to classes, Romeike said. They had been holding
classes in their home.
Along with thousands of torture victims, political dissidents, members
of religious minorities and other persecuted groups who win political
asylum every year, the Romeike family will now be free to live and work
in the US. The case does not create a legal precedent unless the US
government appeals and a higher immigration court hears the case.
“Home schoolers in Germany are a particular social group, which is one
of the protected grounds under the asylum law,” said Mike Connelly,
attorney for the Home School Legal Defence Association, who argued the
case. “This judge looked at the evidence, he heard their testimony, and
he felt that the way Germany is treating home schoolers is wrong. The
rights being violated here are basic human rights.”
In 2006 the Romeikes pulled their children out of a state school in
Bissingen, Germany, in protest of what they deemed an anti-Christian
They said textbooks presented ideas and language that conflicted with
their Christian beliefs, including slang terms for sex acts and images
of vampires and witches, while the school offered what they described as
ethics lessons from Islam, Buddhism and other religions. The eldest son
got into fights in school and the eldest daughter had trouble studying.
“I think it’s important for parents to have the freedom to chose the way
their children can be taught,” Romeike told the Associated Press.
About 1.5 million US children are taught at home. In Morristown, a town
of about 27,000, the Romeikes have connected with other home schooling
families, organising field trips and other activities.
The German consul general for the southeastern US said in a statement
that mandatory school attendance ensures a high education standard for
all children, adding that parents have many educational options.
In 2008, the US government received more than 47,000 applications for
political asylum and granted 10,743, including four from Germany.
Connelly said this was the first time home schooling had been the
central issue in a US political asylum case.
guardian.co.uk (c) Guardian News and Media Limited 2010