By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
MINAS GERAIS, BRAZIL, April 1, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Brazilian family fighting criminal and civil charges for homeschooling their children have appealed their case to the nation’s Supreme Court of Justice.
Cleber and Bernadeth Nunes, who have homeschooled their children since 2006, were initially prosecuted in 2008 for "intellectual abandonment" for failing to enroll their children in a school approved by the Brazilian government.
Despite the fact that their two oldest children, David and Jonatas, passed law school entrance exams at the ages of 13 and 14 respectively, local government officials were not impressed. They assessed a fine equivalent to roughly $1,800 USD and ordered the couple to return their children to school. They refused.
After initiating a criminal trial against the Nunes, the government ordered tests for David and Jonatas. The tests covered a vast array of subjects and even the teachers administering them acknowledged they could not pass them. However, the Nunes children both received passing grades.
Despite the performance on the tests, the Nunes lost their case repeatedly in local civil courts. They are now appealing the case to the nation’s highest court of justice. A decision in the criminal case is still pending. In the meantime, they have been ordered to return their children to school, and have continued to refuse to do so.
"Our hopes are great," Cleber Nunes told LifeSiteNews, despite the fact that they had been advised to "leave our house, move to another place because the authorities could come at any moment and execute the penalty" against them. At one point, he said, representatives of the local Tutelary Council had even told him to go to the USA, where homeschooling is legal.
Nunes told LifeSiteNews that the "penalty" would likely be that the authorities would "take possession of the children, that is they would give them to another family" and "send me to prison for failing to comply with a judicial order." Such an action could be taken against him at any time.
However, Nunes has decided not to flee, but to stand his ground. He continues to refuse to send his children to public school, and says that they study six hours a day under his supervision.
"For me, intellectual abandonment would be to leave my children five hours daily in school, looking at the backs of the heads of the students in front of them, barely learning in a passive manner," he told the Brazilian news network UAI. "I hope that someone has the good sense to judge the case, recognizing the freedom of parents and deciding to copy the good examples of developed countries, where family education is common."
Nunes says that he is hoping that before his case is judged by the Supreme Court of Justice, the Congress will have passed Resolution 3518/08, a bill to legalize homeschooling authored by representatives Henrique Afonso and Miguel Martini.
"There is a hope for Brazilian families," he told LifeSiteNews. "We hope the Congress will act with justice, and if they approve PL 3518 it will be a happy ending for us and for many Brazilian families."
Cleber Nunes (he speaks English) can be contacted at: email@example.com
To contact the Brazilian Embassy:
Embassy of Brazil in the USA
3006 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Phone: (202) 238-2700
Fax: (202) 238-2827
Embassy of Brazil in Canada
450 Wilbrod Street
Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6M8
Phone: (613) 237-1090 or (613) 755-5160
Fax: (613) 237-6144
Embassies of Brazil to other Nations: http://www.embassyworld.com/embassy/Brazil/Brazil1.html
See previous LifeSiteNews coverage:
Brazilian Court Convicts Homeschooling Family Despite Evidence of Success
Brazilian Homeschoolers Score Surprise Victory in Showdown Against Government
Brazilian Homeschool Couple May be Jailed if Their Children Fail Harsh Government Tests
Homeschooling Showdown in Brazil: Children to be Tested by Court in Battle Over Educational Rights of Parents
Brazilian Government Prosecutes Homeschooling Family, Threatens to Remove Children