(Photo: Home School Legal Defense Association)
The White House has posted a response to the petition to stop the deportation of the Romeikes, a homeschooling family from Germany. The White House does not respond to issues before the courts, the response said, but they understand why parents would value the freedom to homeschool.
"But while we can't comment on this particular issue," the White House wrote, "we know that homeschooling is a popular option for many parents pursuing high academic standards for their children. Homeschooling can provide young people with the resources and attention they need to succeed academically, and we understand why their parents value this freedom."
The White House has agreed to provide an official response to any petition that receives at least 100,000 signatures. The petition received 127,258 signatures.
Though the White House says it understands why parents would value the freedom to homeschool, the administration, through the Justice Department, has been trying to deport the Romeikes back to Germany, where they could lose custody of their children if they were to continue to homeschool. In the various court cases, the Justice Department has argued that the right of parents to decide their children's education is not a fundamental right, and it agreed with a German court's opinion that banning homeschooling teaches tolerance of diverse views.
The Romeikes lost their last appeal in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Home School Legal Defense Association, which represents the Romeikes, has now appealed the case to the Supreme Court.
In a blog post on the HSLDA website, HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris criticized the administration for taking so long say that it could not respond, and for allowing certain current unauthorized immigrants, the so-called "dreamers," to stay in the country while going out of its way to try to deport one family.
"No one can understand why the White House is showing so much leniency to millions of immigrants who have come here illegally in hopes of securing better jobs, but is so determined to deport this one family who has come to America in search of freedom for themselves and their children," Farris declared. "This petition was the perfect opportunity for the White House to explain why this administration appealed the original grant of asylum. This was a perfect opportunity for the White House to explain the blatantly unequal treatment being received by the Romeike family. But the White House stalled for four months and said absolutely nothing."
Farris also found the White House response disturbing for what it did not say – that parents have a right to direct their children's education.
"Accordingly, when the White House simply notes that parents value their own freedom, it stops dangerously short in its statement. Where is the ringing endorsement that parental freedom is a fundamental human right? The White House silence on this point says a great deal," Farris claimed.