Last updated December 5th, 2023 23:44
The question that perhaps many parents have asked. At the same time, it’s a question to which practically no one knows a completely clear answer. If you ask lawyers, they have a fairly clear view of it. The situation is entirely similar to that in a hospital, where as a parent, you have the right to be with your child continuously. Minister Válek even issued guidelines on this topic. Their responses are searchable across the internet and are quite clear. Yes, parents have the right to be with their child at school. After all, the school as an institution is subject to the same laws and rules as a hospital. That’s the theory. However, the practice is such that practically the vast majority of state schools strictly limit and prohibit this. The reason? Safety. So, let’s ask a clear question. Can parents accompany their children to the school building? We’ll try to unravel this. However, I must state in advance that the answer is still entirely unclear.
Can parents accompany their children to the school building?
As I mentioned above, many schools impose a ban on parents entering the building under the pretext of safety. This is certainly a commendable idea because every parent would agree that children need to be protected. However, when we delve beneath the surface of these regulations, we often encounter situations where safety rules are only a facade. For instance, a parent is not allowed to accompany their child into the school building to prevent the child from wandering the school premises unsupervised, but they can pay for school lunches. This means they can move freely around the building unmonitored but must have a different purpose than escorting their child. There are more situations like this, such as picking up lunches when a child is sick. Is it paradoxical? Yes, it is. But those are the “safety” rules.
Okay, I understand the idea of protecting children from the presence of unfamiliar individuals in the school building. However, the established rules, as illustrated in the examples above, do not appear reasonable. Nevertheless, we encounter the fact that a parent, if nothing else, is definitely not a stranger. And because I have a child myself, and our school has also implemented similar measures, I looked into how the law views individual regulations. So, who is right? Is it the school referring to its internal regulations, or is it the parent who can invoke the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms?
How does the highest educational institution, the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports (MŠMT), view this?
Opinions on this situation vary, even among parents. Some believe that nobody should be allowed into the building, while others naturally fight for their right to accompany their child. If you ask a private attorney or lawyer, they usually have a clear view. In the law, the parent has the right to accompany their child and enter the school building, as guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, specifically Article 32 and its Section 4.
According to their interpretation, the school cannot prohibit you from accompanying your child into the building, even through the school regulations, for a simple reason. The school regulations are not superior to the law, and the law is not superior to the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. In case of a dispute, the jurisdiction of the Czech Republic is clear. The strongest legal element always prevails, which in this case is the aforementioned Charter. Unfortunately, from a legal perspective, the school regulations are entirely irrelevant in setting rules. So, you would get an answer similar to this if you ask a lawyer.
However, the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports (MŠMT) sees it in the opposite way. I asked MŠMT for their view on the matter without mentioning the school’s name. It wasn’t a complaint; I just wanted to know the viewpoint of the authority overseeing education in the Czech Republic.
MŠMT’s (Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports) viewpoint
I recommend that you review the school regulations of the school your child attends, where you can find information about the entry of students and parents into the school.
In this regard, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the school regulations must be approved by the school board, and not only students and educators but also the legal guardians of the students must be informed of its issuance.
In other words, it depends on the rules outlined in the school regulations of the specific school.
If any adjustment to the school regulations prevents you from accompanying your son to school, you can request a consultation with the school director to discuss your concerns and attempt to find a common solution. You can present your arguments and justifications for why you would like to accompany your son to school.
Best regards and have a great day ...
In other words, the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports (MŠMT) simply states that the school has this right and can, therefore, prohibit parents from entering based solely on the school regulations. Since many private attorneys argue completely differently, I was interested in the basis on which this is possible.
I would like to clarify this before taking any action. Based on which law can the school principal prohibit the legal guardian of a child (if it concerns accompaniment)? I refer to the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, specifically Article 32: "The care and upbringing of children are the rights of parents; children have the right to parental upbringing and care. Parental rights may be restricted, and minor children may be separated from their parents against their will only by a court decision based on the law."
I assume, therefore, from the logic of the matter, that the school regulations cannot be superior to the laws of the Czech Republic. And if the laws of the Czech Republic, and by extension, the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, state this, how is it possible or on the basis of which law does the principal have the authority to circumvent this using the school regulations? Do you have any specific wording of a law that allows this?
After examining many articles, for example this one "The Child Has the Right to Uninterrupted Parental Presence in School/Preschool/Club", where the same situation was discussed with a lawyer, he came to the conclusion that nothing of the sort is possible, and the school regulations are not higher than the law.
I am concerned about a situation where common ground cannot be found. From the above, it is evident that the school regulations are essentially the internal guidelines of the specific school. However, even these must comply with the current laws of the Czech Republic, and in this case, the parent is in the right, and the school's demand for a ban on the accompaniment or presence of the legal guardian cannot be enforced.
I request clarification of the situation based on the information provided above or, if possible, the wording of the law that could grant the school principal such authority. Despite my best efforts, I have not found any such law that the school principal could use to enforce a ban on a parent's accompaniment of their child.
Legal Department of the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports (MŠMT)
My previous inquiry above could not be answered through the regular channels, and therefore, it was forwarded to the legal department of MŠMT. After approximately two weeks, a response was received, which essentially provided a more detailed explanation of the previous answer.”
In 2015, the Ministry issued methodological recommendations on the safety of children, students, and pupils in schools and educational facilities, following a tragic event in Žďár nad Sázavou - Minimum Safety Standards, ref. no. MSMT-1981/2015-1. This includes measures such as spatial, organizational-technical, personnel, and documentation-related measures.
The significance of this document is methodological, not normative. Among other things, it states that in addition to measures primarily aimed at ensuring the physical safety of students, the school also considers the psychological well-being of students. Therefore, if the fact that a parent cannot accompany their child would jeopardize the child's psychological well-being, the school can make an exception within the framework of the school regulations. Additionally, the presence of strangers in the classroom can have an adverse impact on other students. In this context, it is noted that in line with the principles and objectives of education, the principle of mutual respect, respect, and dignity of all participants in education must be observed (Section 2, paragraph 1, letter c of the School Act).
According to Section 36 of the School Act, school attendance is mandatory and begins at the beginning of the school year following the day when the child reaches the age of six, unless a delay is granted. Therefore, it is assumed that a child starting mandatory school attendance is sufficiently physically and mentally mature. In the case of the legal obligation of children to attend school within a certain age range, it is not an unforeseen situation, and the legal guardian can adequately prepare themselves and the child for the demands associated with starting school. Only in extreme cases is it up to the school, and therefore the principal, to decide whether to make an exception from the established conditions for ensuring the safety and health protection of students.
Regarding the question of whether restricting a parent's access to the school building violates the fundamental right to the care and upbringing of children (according to Article 32, paragraph 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms), the ministry is not authorized to interpret individual provisions of the law in a binding manner or issue binding interpretative opinions. If you believe that restricting access to the school premises interferes with constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights and freedoms, it is appropriate to turn to the court.
The legal basis for children's rights is defined, for example, in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Notification No. 104/1991 Coll., on the Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child), which stipulates that the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration in any activity concerning children (Article 3, paragraph 1).
The Constitutional Court has already expressed its views in its decisions on the need to consider the best interests of the child (where in any court decision concerning a child, it is necessary to consider the best interests of the child as a primary consideration), as well as the right to respect for family life. However, its conclusions cannot be applied without further consideration due to significant factual differences.
So how to deal with the information from both camps?
In this case, it’s quite challenging. Each camp has its own explanation of how this situation should be handled. According to the Ministry of Education, if the school continues to push for a ban on parents entering the school building or accompanying their child, the only way to resolve the matter is through the court. Unfortunately, there is no precedent in the Czech Republic for such a situation, which would show how the highest legal institutions of the country would react. That’s the problem because where there is no precedent, there is no unequivocal answer yet.
Moreover, if I ask myself why it works in hospitals, and why Minister Válek is pushing for nobody to restrict parents in this context through a methodological guideline, what makes a school so different that it should be handled differently? Why can one ministry address the same situation with its own efforts and guidelines while the other cannot and requires a court’s opinion?
Additionally, considering that the tragic event in Žďár nad Sázavou can be applied to almost anything, there have been situations in hospitals where patients were armed and fired shots. Even so, this was not used as a justification to ban parents from accompanying their minor children even for medical examinations. Why? Because it’s not feasible.
Can parents accompany their children into the school building?
Child safety is certainly an important matter, and I’m the last person who would want to underestimate it in any way. However, it is important to me that such safety is not illegal and that it is not fake. Fake, because on one hand, we remove parents from the school when they want to accompany their child, and on the other hand, we allow them access to the school, for example, to pick up lunch without any supervision. That is not safety; these are simply nonsensically set and restrictive rules that have nothing to do with safety.
As you may have noticed, I haven’t found a clear answer yet. Nobody wants to firmly state their position on this matter without a court decision. That’s why I’m also turning to you and your opinions. Have you encountered a similar situation? If so, how did you handle it? Personally, I will continue to search until I find the answer to which camp is actually right. But it seems that with the Czech Republic’s system, hand in hand with the state education system, this will be a long and challenging journey. Comments are open, and I welcome every contribution to the discussion.
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