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Berlin school rejects pupil due to AfD father

December 17, 2018

An alternative Berlin private school has reportedly rejected a pupil's application as his father is an AfD politician. The state education minister has summoned the school administration to investigate.

Kid in suspenders, polo shirt and a hat raises his hand in class
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/B. Wüstneck

A Berlin school rejected the application of a child because the father is an AfD politician, prompting criticism on Sunday.

A Waldorf school, also known as a Steiner school, reportedly held lengthy meetings with the AfD politician and his wife as well as about 20 teachers and decided against accepting their child despite the fact he was already attending its kindergarten. The parents were reportedly quizzed about their political views.

The private school, which encourages heavy parental participation, found there was too much potential for ongoing conflict for them to accept the child, according to the managing director of the association responsible for Waldorf schools.

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"A consensual solution to the conflict was sought, but could not be reached," the managing director said. "In view of this conflict, the school sees no possibility of accepting the child with the necessary openness and impartiality — both are basic prerequisites for adequately promoting the child's development."

Read more: Private schools: Why does Germany allow them?

AfD versus teachers

The far-right party has repeatedly criticized teachers for inculcating pupils against their xenophobic and nationalist views, even setting up an anonymous online system for pupils to report teachers who speak against them.

The decision was panned by state Education Minister Sandra Scheeres, a Social Democrat, who said the administration of the school had been summoned over the matter, according to Berliner Zeitung.

Private schools are governed by the same regulations as state schools, but they also have the right to select pupils as long as they don't violate anti-discrimination legislation.

Detlef Hardorp, the education policy spokesman of the Waldorf schools in the Berlin-Brandenburg area, was quoted by Berliner Zeitung  as criticizing the decision. "People of all political persuasions should be able to send their children to Waldorf schools," Hardorp said.

However, he stressed that the school had 140 applications for just 30 spots and that the school was obliged to reject most of them.

The AfD politician, unnamed for reasons of privacy, told Berliner Kurier he regretted the decision. "We liked this school very much. How can we now explain to our child that his friends may join the Waldorf school next year but that we are not welcome there?" He said he wanted to keep his political life separate from his private life.

Read more: German AfD scheme allows kids to tell on their teachers

Fact check: German schools

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