MUNICH — (MunichNOW Life) — More than twenty families are facing heavy fines in Germany after they were caught by police taking children out of school to go on holiday, according to a recent story in the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper.
It’s not uncommon for parents to take their children out of class a day before the school holidays begin in order to get a cheaper flight or avoid the rush.
But in the southern German state of Bavaria you do so at your peril. Police were deployed to the region’s airports at the start of the Pentecost holidays last week to check any children of school age.
The Telegraph reported that parents travelling with children between the ages of four and 16 were stopped and ordered to show a letter from their school showing they had permission to be out of class.
Their parents could find themselves returning from holiday to a hefty bill. Under Bavarian law parents can face fines of up to €1,000 (£880) if they take their children out of school without permission — enough to wipe out any savings they are likely to have made by getting cheaper flights ahead of the rush.
It could have been even worse for the families involved, according to a police officer at Memmingen airport who told Spiegel magazine he could have made them miss their flights and ordered the children back to school.
“We call the school to check if they are out of class without permission. If the teacher insists on the presence of the children, we have to bring them back,” the unnamed officer said.
In this instance no children were forced to miss out on their family holidays. But their parents’ names have all been passed to local authorities who will decide whether to fine them.
“I appeal to all parents to be aware of their role model position when it comes to the start of their holidays,” Bernd Sibler, the Bavarian edcuation minister said.
School attendance is compulsory throughout Germany to the age of 16, but enforcement varies from state to state. Bavaria is notorious in Germany for its strict application of the rules.
In Berlin parents who take their children out of school without permission can face even heavier fines of up to €2,500 (£2,200) but police are not typically deployed to catch offenders at the airport.
A Berlin mother was hit with the maximum fine in 2013 — but her son had missed 1,000 school days.