In America, it is standard practice for parents to excuse their children from school for anything from an early start on vacation to something as menial as staying out late for a concert, but parents in Germany don’t get such an easy pass. With warmer weather arriving and vacation season beginning, some German parents looking to get a head start are facing some pretty harsh realities and some hefty fines.
Germany’s news magazine Der Spiegel ran a report earlier this week on a series of police traps set up in Bavarian airports with the goal of targeting parents with children who should have been sitting at their desks in school.
The trap was set up ahead of the popular three-day weekend Pentecost holiday that started on May 19 to catch parents who broke the compulsory schooling laws by beginning their family vacations a few days early.
Germany’s education policy takes student absences very seriously, requiring parents to obtain special permission to remove their children from school. So when more than 20 families were caught sidestepping these rules to save a few dollars by starting their holiday early, police stationed at airports reported their names to local authorities.
Instead of stopping the early vacation, families were still allowed to move ahead with their plans, although with a more stressful outlook on their return home. Parents will have two weeks to justify their reason for removing any children from school, and if the excuse isn’t good enough, parents face fines of up to €1,000 ($1,172) per child… more than they likely saved by starting the holiday early.