Every year, thousands of children and their parents receive a letter from the canton with details of their kindergarten or school allocation. Parents are not always happy with the respective educational establishment to which their child has been allocated. We set out the legal situation and show you how to appeal against a school allocation.
I don't agree with my child's kindergarten or school allocation. What can I do?
If there are several schools or kindergartens to which your child could be allocated and if the route to all of them is reasonable, then you do not have a general say in the matter or an entitlement for your child to be allocated to a specific kindergarten or school.
For instance, if you'd like your child to go to the same school or kindergarten with other children from the area, you can contact the responsible office after allocation and ask for your child to be reallocated. However, without a compelling reason (unreasonable route to school or kindergarten), you do not have a legal entitlement to reallocation.
I don't think that my child is able to go to school on their own. What can I do about it?
The community, or rather the office responsible for education and schooling, normally guarantees a reasonable route to school or kindergarten. If this isn't the case, you can contest a school or kindergarten allocation through the responsible complaints body. The responsible complaints body is normally listed under the "Appeals" section in the school allocation. You can also challenge the complaints body's decision and, if necessary, also involve the Cantonal Administrative Court and ultimately the Federal Supreme Court too.
When is a route to school or kindergarten unreasonable?
In law, there is no agreement about what is regarded as reasonable and about when unreasonableness begins. Individual judgments vary greatly in terms of how they evaluate reasonableness. What is striking about these judgments is that the courts often expect more of children rather than specialists. Despite there being no generally binding principles, there are certain trends and crucial criteria for evaluating reasonableness. Criteria for evaluating reasonableness:
- Length of route to school
- Height difference or topography
- Danger of route to school
- The developmental status and health of the child in question
What has been established so far is that routes of up to 30 minutes that a child has to take four times a day must be regarded as reasonable. Here it should be possible to have a lunch break of at least 45 minutes. If it is less than 30 minutes, the school authority must offer school transport or provide lunch and supervision. This means that a school route of up to 1.5 kilometers is usually reasonable, but it should be shorter for kindergarten children.
It has also been established in law that kindergarten children can normally and reasonably be expected to cross quiet roads at pedestrian crossings. Dealing with minor risks is essentially part of children learning about traffic and must therefore be accepted.
If you think that your child's route to school is unreasonable, you should definitely have this checked. This is because individual cases are decisive.
The route is to be classified as unreasonable. Can I now switch my child to a different school?
The Federal Constitution states that primary school education must be provided at no cost. The entitlement to a reasonable school route is based on this provision. The school route or its reasonableness is therefore the responsibility of the public authorities.
If a school route is unreasonable, the school authority (canton or municipal authority) must ensure that school-age children can get to school and back safely, reliably and on time. Various measures are available to the school authority to ensure that the school route is designed to be reasonable. These include:
- Transport using public transportation
- Providing school transport
- Structural measures
- Traffic pilot schemes
- Lunchtime catering in schools
Of course, parents can apply for reallocation, but ultimately the school authority decides which measure is suitable.