[Bulgaria] The State Agency for Child Protection sued a kindergarten for discriminating against an adopted Roma child

21 Feb 2020

The independent media platform for human rights journalism Marginalia.bg reported that the Commission for Protection against Discrimination (CPD) has sentenced the kindergarten "Zhelyazko Popnikolov" in Vidin, Bulgaria, the director of the kindergarten, as well as two of the teachers for discriminating against a foster child who is a pupil in the garden. The staff have received a fine of 250 BGN each and a mandatory order not to discriminate in any form whatsoever. It took two years for the CPD to decide on a signal filed by the State Agency for Child Protection (SACP) and initiated by the foster mother Vanina Boycheva and the National Foster Care Association (NFCA).

The foster mother reported that she and the child had long been pressured by kindergarten teachers Bilyana Borisova and Rumyana Evgenieva to remove the child from the kindergarten. According to Boycheva, the reason was that the child was of Roma origin. The educators recommended that the foster mother should opt for home-education for the child and supported the recommendation with individual assessments based on subjective observations of the child's behavior. Vanina Boycheva refused opting for this form of education, as well as the option to move her foster child to another educational institution as there were no valid reasons to do so.

During a parent meeting with the participation of the foster mother and the NFCA coordinator in Vidin, Tsvetelina Miloslavova, the kindergarten director told all participating parents that she doesn't know its origin and what its "genetic material" is. The foster mother says that after this parental meeting, the rest of the parents started harassing her. In several meetings, parents said they do not want their children to study together with the foster child, and even gave interviews to the media in protest. Vanina Boycheva also received specific threats and allegations over the phone. A complaint to the NFCA and the SACP and a check-up followed with specialists from the Complex for Social Services starting work with the child. The foster mother Boycheva also moved the child to another kindergarten.

Unfortunately, this case was not a first. In her statement to the CPD, NFCA Coordinator Tsvetelina Miloslavova commented that she also provided emotional support to another foster mother whose child, a pupil of the same teachers, was punished to stand alone in the hallway and to eat on the table alone with the back turned to the other children. There was also a third case of neglect of a child of different than Bulgarian ethnic origin in the same kindergarten.

The Commission for Protection against Discrimination concluded that the foster child Simeon has been discriminated against because he has been offered home-education as an option without an adequate reason. In its decision, the CPD emphasized that it was necessary that the teaching staff took the necessary actions to ensure equal opportunities for the foster child in regards to the other children and based on his ethnic origin and individual abilities. This, according to the CPD, could have been achieved by providing qualified personnel who have experience with working with children at risk. This qualification has not been established for both teachers who worked with the child.

You can read additional detailed information about the case in the original source article in Bulgarian.

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