Dutch schools increasingly face lawsuits from parents: Report

Parents in the Netherlands are increasingly taking legal action against their children's schools, legal aid insurers told newspaper Trouw on Friday. The number of requests for advice in conflicts with educational institutions increased significantly over the past years. Educational organizations are concerned about this development, according to the newspaper.

Last year Achmea Legal Assistance handled 784 education cases, compared to 557 five years ago. Legal aid insurer ARAG receives about 300 requests for aid in education conflicts per year, the insurer said. Five years ago ARAG didn't even have any education specialist lawyers on staff. 

A number of such lawsuits made news headlines this year already. On Friday the court in Utrecht is trying a lawsuit filed by the mother of a primary school student against school De Ronde Venen. The girl was put into a combination class for group 3 and 4. The mother wants her child to be in a class with only group 4 students. 

Earlier this year another mother she filed against her children's school because the school arranged school photo day during Eid al-Adha. And last week an 18-year-old girl from Breda in court. She

According to Trouw, it is only a small number of such cases that actually end up in court. In the majority of cases, a solution is found during mediation. 

Primary school organization PO Raad always tries to convince parents and schools to try a "good conversation" before taking legal action. "The judge is really the last resort", spokesperson Ad Veen said to Trouw. "The starting point should be that you resolve a conflict in conversation, if necessary by means of an external mediator." He calls the trend of parents jumping to legal action "painful". '

Interest club Ouders & Onderwijs also advises parents to try a mediator first, director Peter Hulsen said to the newspaper. "Parents call with the words: can jou connect me to a lawyer? But then the first question is always: what is actually going on? And if you start a conversation, a different solution often turns out to be possible. In the end, no child benefits from parents and a school fighting."