The opinion was issued in the procedure regarding the complaint that AA submitted on behalf of her underage children against Elementary School BB (hereinafter: the school), for discrimination on the grounds of nationality or ethnic origin, as well as on the basis of religious or political beliefs. The complaint states, among other things, that the underage children of the complainant are believers of the Slovak Evangelical Church in Serbia, as well as that they were denied the right to attend religious classes at the school, and that the school did not timely request the consent of the competent Ministry of Education to form a group of less than 15 students for religious instruction, while providing other students of the Catholic or Islamic faith with religious instruction. The complainant stated that from September 1, 2018, she has been submitted a duly completed survey, in connection with the registration of her older child for religious instruction, and from September 1, 2020, for her younger child as well. In a statement and supplement to the statement on the allegations from the complaint, the school director stated, among other things, that the school, after talks with the complainant in 2018, sent a request to the School Administration to form a group of less than 15 students to organize religious instruction, but that the request was rejected, that the School had collected information on the possibility of sending the complainant’s child to another school to attend religious classes, and that the school had contacted the School Administration several times, at the complainant’s repeated interest, and that upon the information from the School Administration, the school submitted a new request for enabling the formation of a group of less than 15 students for the subject of religious education, and that this request was granted, on the basis of which a religious education teacher was hired. After the procedure, it was determined that, according to the special rule on redistribution of the burden of proof, prescribed in Article 45, paragraph 2 of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination, the complainant made an act of discrimination probable, while the school did not provide adequate evidence that it undertook all actions and activities in accordance with regulations. In the procedure, and after considering all the evidence and the established facts, it was determined that the school submitted one request in 2018, but not within the deadline provided by the regulations, and that the request stated that the request was submitted at the insistence of parents. The school did not provide evidence that in the following school years it addressed the Ministry on this issue. Having in mind the rule on shifting the burden of proof and the submitted evidence, the Commissioner is of the opinion that Elementary School BB violated the provisions of Article 6 of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination, because in the period from the beginning of the 2018/2019 school year until January 2022, it did not take all necessary measures within its competence to enable the complainant’s children to attend religious classes in the Slovak Evangelical religion. Bearing in mind that after the complaint was filed, underage children of the complainant were allowed to attend religious classes the Commissioner recommended that the school not violate the anti-discrimination regulations in the future.
COMMISSIONER FOR THE PROTECTION OF EQUALITY