The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Ohio officials are investigating pro-Nazi home-schoolers

4 min

Ohio’s education department said it would investigate the apparent use of fascist materials by a home-schooling network after reports that the pro-Nazi group is run by a couple living in the state. The course materials denigrate the intelligence of African Americans and celebrate Adolf Hitler.

An official with the state’s education agency said the department is aware of the reports and “is actively reviewing compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements.”

But there’s likely little the state can do because while the state mandates that certain topics be taught, it does not govern details of what home school can and cannot include.

Last week, the Anonymous Comrades Collective, a group of anti-fascism researchers, reported that an organization called Dissident Homeschool was distributing pro-Nazi curriculum via a Telegram channel that has more than 2,300 subscribers.

The group’s leaders call themselves Mr. and Mrs. Saxon, but the Anonymous Comrades research team identified them as Katja and Logan Lawrence of Upper Sandusky, Ohio. HuffPost confirmed their identities in a subsequent report.

The Lawrences could not be reached for comment.

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The messages and lessons distributed by the home-schooling network are filled with Nazi, white supremacist and racist lessons, according to excerpts posted by the Anonymous Comrades Collective. When the network reached its 1,000th subscriber, leaders celebrated with a photo of boys delivering a Nazi salute. “Mrs. Saxon” wrote, “It fills my heart with joy to know there is such a strong base of home-schoolers and homeschool-interested national socialists. Hail Victory.”

She told a podcast called “Achtung! Amerikaner” that she started the network because she was having trouble finding “Nazi approved school material for my home-schooled children.”

She also said: “We are so deeply invested into making sure that that child becomes a wonderful Nazi.”

One lesson distributed by the network teaches students that Black people have lower IQs than White people do. The lessons venerate Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and denigrate the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “Mrs. Saxon” also talks of celebrating Hitler’s birthday with favorite German foods, bragging about making a “swastika apple pie.”

In a lesson reported by HuffPost, children are taught handwriting by copying a quotation about “the behavior of the blacks” that begins: “A leopard does not change his spots just because you bring him in from the jungle and try to housebreak him and turn him into a pet.”

Nazis murdered 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. In recent years, the United States and other countries have seen a rise in antisemitism, including comments from high-profile figures such as the rapper Ye; greater acceptance of stereotypes and tropes; and rising incidents of antisemitic graffiti and other incidents.

In Ohio, parents who want to home-school their children must notify the local school district and provide 900 hours of instruction per year on a range of subjects including language, reading, geography, math and science. They also must provide an assessment of student work.

In a statement, Stephanie K. Siddens, Ohio’s interim superintendent of public instruction, condemned the Nazi home-schoolers but said nothing about how they might be stopped.

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“I am outraged and saddened,” she said. “There is absolutely no place for hate-filled, divisive and hurtful instruction in Ohio’s schools, including our state’s home-schooling community. I emphatically and categorically denounce the racist, antisemitic and fascist ideology and materials being circulated as reported in recent media stories.”

The superintendent of the Upper Sandusky Exempted Village Schools, Eric Landversicht, also responded to the reporting with a letter to the community. He said he could not discuss specific students and said there was nothing he could do to stop this teaching. He also said the district vigorously enforces a ban on discrimination in official programs and activities, and he offered counseling support for students who need it.

“The allegations are egregious, and the District vehemently condemns any such resources,” he wrote.