Fridays for Future: First German students fined for skipping class

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 18 Jul, 2019 Updated Thu 18 Jul 2019 13:31 CEST
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Four Mannheim families have been fined because their children skipped school to take part in a demonstration of the climate protection movement "Fridays for Future".

Students at the Geschwister-Scholl-Gymnasium in Mannheim in Baden-Württemberg ditched their classes for two hours in order to "strike" in the weekly demonstration, reported the Mannheimer Morgen on Wednesday. 

Official school holidays don’t begin in the southwestern state until July 29th. 

Their families now have to pay €88.50 each for unexcused absences, as the responsible regional council in Karlsruhe confirmed.

The parents were fined as they had not previously made an "Antrag auf Befreiung vom Unterricht", or a request to be able to skip school.

In a letter to the newspaper, the families also referred ironically to the namesake of the school: the historical Scholl siblings.

"How can a school named after Sophie and Hans Scholl deal with children who are politically interested and committed in this way?" the newspaper quoted the parents saying.

Sophie and Hans Scholl were active with the group "Weiße Rose" in the resistance against the National Socialists and were executed for distributing pamphlets about their beliefs.

SEE ALSO: What we can learn from the White Rose siblings

"When we punish those who make us aware, instead of fighting the climate crisis, we are standing on the wrong side of history," tweeted Fridays for Future Germany.

No other fines yet

There have been no fines imposed on pupils in Berlin, Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia for participating in Fridays for Future, reported Spiegel Online on Thursday. 

"Schools have bragged about drastic consequences in the spring, but nothing really happened," lawyer Sibylle Schwarz told the news website

This could be the first case in which climate activists were fined by their school, despite an outcry earlier this month that schools around Germany would begin fining their students for missing class. 

SEE ALSO: Fridays for Future: German climate protesters face fines for skipping school 

When approached by the Rheinishe Post newspaper, the North Rhine-Westphalia education ministry pointed out that school attendance was compulsory even in the last week before the summer holidays in mid-July.

"Participation in student strikes during school hours must not be at the expense of school attendance and is therefore inadmissible," the ministry said.

Launched by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, 'Fridays for Future' has seen pupils "strike" against school teaching each Friday for months across Europe, including all over Germany.



The Local 2019/07/18 13:31

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