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Homeschooling family fined 15 000 USD by the Swedish Supreme Court
Riksföreningen för Hemundervisning i Sverige - Rohus2013-08-19 09:46 CEST
15 000 USD – the highest fine for home education in Sweden in later years
Through the decision of the Swedish Supreme Administrative Court one of Sweden’s most well-known home educating families now have to pay a fine of 15 000 USD (100 000 SEK) for home educating their then 12 year old daughter for one year, the school year 2010-2011. This was before the restrictive and questionable new law on homeschooling came in effect on July 1, 2011. The fine is five times higher than what any other family has had to pay in recent years. It is an incredibly high amount, especially as the authorities have not researched the financial situation of the family.
The verdict is even more notable as the family moved to Finland in early 2012 and now home educate in accordance with the Finnish school law. According to the Swedish law of fines (viteslagen) 9 § a fine may not be issued if the objective ”has lost its significance” which is the case with the family no longer resident in Sweden. The Swedish law of fines does not support using a fine as punishment or as a general preventive action. The verdict raises questions about the Swedish rule of law. The verdict will be appealed to the European Court.
The family struggled for their right in Uppsala municipality for three years
During the years 2008-2011 the family fought in the courts for the right to home educate in the Uppsala municipality where they lived at the time. During this time the Swedish school law was pretty permissive to home education, and the family had special reasons and also support for their competence and the suitability to home educate their daughter from both Swedish and international educational experts. Swedish juridical experts found the quality of their applications for home education high, above average in quality during a time when many Swedish families still received permission to home educate. The lawyers of Uppsala municipality still turned down the applications every time for not much more specific reasons than a general dislike to home education.
The first fine threat for the school year 2010-2011 from the Uppsala municipality was 920 USD per week (6000 SEK) which would have been nearly 37 000 USD for the full 40 week school year. In the request for an execution of the fine to the local court the municipality demanded nearly 28 000 USD (180 000 SEK) in December 2011. The lower court (Förvaltningsrätten) reduced the amount to 15 000 USD, and as neither the mid court (Kammarrätten) nor the Supreme Administrative Court would take the case, the 15 000 USD fine is now final and will have to be payed.
The father of the family works as an educational consultant since many years with both business trainers and school teachers. He is also President of the Swedish Association for Home Education – ROHUS – and was the chairman of the world’s first Global Home Education Conference 2012 in Berlin. The mother is a classically trained violinist and music teacher. The have three children, all home educated, and live in a form of political exile on the Aland Islands in Finland since February 2012.
The local Social Services recommended the family to go in exile
Early in 2011 the family contacted the responsible local politician in the Uppsala municipality who lead the meetings where the fines where decided. The family asked for a meeting to try and find a solution. The politician in question, Ms Cecilia Forss representing the Moderate Party, refused to talk with the family. This refusal to communicate, in combination with a report to the Social Services for reasons of home education, and the fine made the family decide it was time to go in exile. In fact the Social Services personnel recommended that that family left Sweden if they wished to continue to home educate and were concerned about the safety of their children. The infamous case of Dominic Johansson has demonstrated what the Swedish Social Services are capable of.
Once the family had decided to leave Sweden they moved swiftly and quietly. Many friends of the family were shocked. Maybe a neighbour of the family expressed it most clearly: “You have been exiled – from Sweden – it is unbelievable”.
The verdict confirms that Sweden has outlawed home education
This court ruling confirms that the current centre-right government has outlawed home education in Sweden. Earlier this spring an orthodox Jewish home educating family in Gothenburg had their application for home education turned down by the Supreme Administrative Court. The only reason was that there were not the “exceptional circumstances” required by the new school law.
Sweden thereby differs from the majority of Western democracies and joins Germany whose school law from 1938 explicitly forbids home education.
The interest in home education is still rising in Sweden
ROHUS continues to get many mails from concerned parents asking how to home educate in Sweden. These are both parents resident in Sweden, and those who for other reasons are planning a move to Sweden. The rise in interest is understandable as the quality of Swedish schools is declining with poor academic results, disorder in the classrooms, an all too common inability to handle children with special needs, and a level of bullying which creates a great distress for many families.
Unfortunately ROHUS must give the recommendation today that home education in Sweden is in effect forbidden. Attempting to home educate without permission may result in high fines, and/or interventions of the Social Services running a small but definite risk of children taken in custody.