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Danish Authorities Find Romani Classes Illegal

16 December 2004

On September 13, Copenhagen’s State County Board of Control issued a decision to end so-called “Romani classes” in the municipality of Helsingør, according to the decision provided the ERRC by Johannes Busk Laursen and Henrik von Bűlow, following a complaint submitted in December 2002 by the Danish Romani organisation Romano, Mr Laursen and Mr von Bűlow. Mr Laursen and Mr von Bűlow are independent activists involved in Romani issues. In the decision, the Copenhagen’s State County Board of Control gave the municipality until September 27 to terminate the illegal classes. The decision was made on the basis that the reason for the classes is not in line with the provisions of the Primary Education Act related to special education: Namely, special educational classes in Denmark are to be formed to promote the educational development of pupils with special learning needs, determined on the basis of professional pedagogical and psychological evaluations, whereas the Romani classes were initiated for pupils who had been absent from school for prolonged periods, without any formal testing having been undertaken. Copenhagen’s State County Board of Control however stated that there was insufficient evidence to prove racialdiscrimination as the municipality had insisted the only reason for the classes was the prolonged absence of the children from school and that any students, regardless of ethnicity, could attend the classes.

According to the decision, the Borupsgård elementary school, which currently houses the Romani classes, was to report at the city council meeting on September 27 as to the actions they intend to take with regard to closing the Romani classes. On September 14 Mr Per Tćrsbøl, the mayor of Helsingør, announced during a broadcast of the Danish radio station DR4 that the municipality was considering keeping open one of the racially segregatory classes until the pupils reach the 9th grade. According to the website of the Helsingør Municipality, at a meeting on October 10, 2004, the city council decided to apply to the Ministry of Education to set aside the decision of the Board. (ERRC)

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