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Ohio closes investigation of neo-Nazi homeschoolers

No laws were violated on the “Dissident Homeschool” Telegram message board, the state’s education department concluded.

A post by Katje Lawrence (Mrs. Saxon) on the Dissident Homeschool Telegram channel, Feb. 1, 2023.
A post by Katje Lawrence (Mrs. Saxon) on the Dissident Homeschool Telegram channel, Feb. 1, 2023.

Ohio’s Department of Education appears to have closed an investigation without pressing charges against a couple that operates the Dissident Homeschool Telegram message channel with thousands of members.

One founder, who said the group responded to “having a rough time finding Nazi-approved school material” to homeschool her children, posted photos of a cake she baked for Adolf Hitler’s birthday, Vice News and The Huffington Post reported, based on Anonymous Comrades Collective research.

The couple said they hoped their and others’ children would “become wonderful Nazis.”

Stephanie Siddens, interim superintendent of public instruction at the department, told Vice the group “outraged and saddened” her, and “there is absolutely no place for hate-filled, divisive and hurtful instruction in Ohio’s schools, including our state’s home-schooling community.” But Vice reported that the department’s investigation seems to have closed without finding any legal repercussions given the state’s policies on homeschooling.

The state is limited to “ensuring that the minimum educational requirements are met, and that the academic assessment report shows that a child is demonstrating reasonable proficiency,” the state said.

One parent who homeschools her children in Ohio told Vice the “amount of oversight is just shocking to me, because there’s really no oversight. It’s basically just a rubber stamp.”

Last year, James Pasch, the regional Anti-Defamation League director for Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania, said that antisemitic incidents in Ohio had increased nearly 100% in the past five years. “We need educators and school board members and superintendents to value and push for anti-bias education, bully prevention, education, Holocaust education,” he said at the time. “We need parents to force that issue with school.”

The number of U.S. homeschooled students went up from 850,000 (1.7%) in 1999 to 1.69 million (3.3.%) in 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In the 2021-22 school year, an estimated 3.135 million U.S. students were homeschooled, down from 3.751 million in 2020-2021, according to the National Home Education Research Institute, a Salem, Ore-based nonprofit.

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