A Brazilian mother has been fined and threatened with losing custody of her son for educating him at home and instilling Christian values. The legal advocacy organization ADF International has taken up her cause and filed a legal appeal to defend the mother’s rights.
According to an Aug. 16 ADF news brief, the incident occurred in Santa Catarina state in Brazil, located south of São Paulo. Regiane Cichelero decided to educate her 12-year-old son at home due to the coronavirus pandemic and the closure of the public school in 2020.
When the schools reopened in March 2021, Cichelero continued to educate her young son at home, believing that he would receive a higher-quality education in accordance with the family’s religious convictions.
However, the local prosecutor’s office began legal proceedings against the mother for failing to enroll her minor child in the school system. Consequently, the mother has now been fined $300 — plus a penalty of $20 a day, not to exceed $1,200 — until she enrolls her son in school.
The judge who heard her case threatened to take away custody of her son if she continued with her choice.
The lawyer for ADF International in Latin America, Julio Pohl, called the fine and threat “reprehensible” since “parents are the first authority for the education of their children, and this reaction by the local authorities is a total violation of their parental rights guaranteed by international law.”
Pohl is also working on the legal defense of the Brazilian mother, and the ADF has filed a legal brief in the appeal process with the Court of Justice of Santa Catarina state.
According to the legal advocacy organization, “more than 70,000 people receive education at home in Brazil.” Likewise, the right of parents “to choose the type of education” for their children is established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Article 26 Section 3.
In response to this legal ordeal, Cichelero stated: “I choose to home-school my son because I believe it’s best for him, and I am committed to providing him with the best education possible. In addition, home schooling allows me to transmit our faith and our values, which are so important to our family — values that are constantly questioned and undermined by the Brazilian public school system on a daily basis.”
“All parents have the right and obligation, given by God, to make decisions that provide the best results for our children,” she said. “I hope the day will come when I and other people in Brazil can exercise our rights as parents without fear of being fined and prosecuted.”
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.