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Ohio 'Neo-Nazi home school' shows lack of regulation, board of ed member says

Ohio Department of Education headquarters in Columbus.
Ryan Loew
Ideastream Public Media
Ohio Department of Education headquarters in Columbus.

State Board of Education Member Teresa Fedor says an Ohio couple’s online neo-Nazi home-school network shows the state needs to better regulate its homeschooling system.

The “Dissident Home School” network, which openly embraces Nazi ideology and implants it into lesson plans and is shared online across a group of roughly 2,500 people, was allegedly created by an Upper Sandusky couple, according to a Vice News report. Fedor said the incident raises serious questions about accountability with Ohio's home-school regulations.

State Board of Education member Teresa Fedor.
Teresa Fedor.
State Board of Education member Teresa Fedor.

"It's quite disturbing to realize how easy it was for these parents to sidestep the little requirement that is necessary in the state of Ohio to register with the superintendent," she said.

The Ohio Department of Education’s Interim Superintendent Stephanie Siddens condemned the Nazi home-schooling network in a statement.

"I am outraged and saddened," Siddens 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 Department of Education says it’s investigating the situation, but currently under Ohio law, the state does not require parents to submit their home-schooling curriculum for review.

According to the Ohio Department of Education, the process for homeschooling in Ohio requires limited criteria for parents to follow. It includes:

  • Providing 900 hours of instruction per year
  • Notifying the superintendent of the student's home district every year
  • And providing an assessment of the student's work once per year

That assessment can take three forms. One is a standardized test conducted by a licensed teacher, "another person mutually agreed upon" by the parents and superintendent, or the publisher of the test, according to Ohio Administrative Code. The second is a "written narrative" indicating that a portfolio of samples of the child's work has been reviewed, prepared by a licensed teacher or another person as outlined above. The final assessment form is an "alternative academic assessment of the child's proficiency" mutually agreed upon by the parents and superintendent.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan have condemned the Nazi home school network in statements. Fedor called upon DeWine to make a statement condemning it further in his State of the State speech tomorrow and said lawmakers need to investigate and consider updating Ohio's home-schooling laws.

"My opinion is every elected official up and down both sides, if they don't condemn this, they're sanctioning this," she said.

Fedor said she's concerned about Senate Bill 11 in Ohio, which attempts to increase tax credits for parents who home school their children from $250 to $2,000, despite the lack of regulations on that form of education.

Conor Morris is the education reporter for Ideastream Public Media.