The Ohio Department of Education is investigating an online homeschool network that aims to indoctrinate children as Nazis — but insiders say the state has little power to change the white supremacist curriculum.
The Dissident Homeschool community — a Telegram channel — was founded in October 2021 by Katja and Logan Lawrence, a married couple with four children based in Upper Sandusky, according to a report published last month by the anti-fascist research group Anonymous Comrades Collective.
In a conversation last year on the neo-Nazi podcast “Achtung! Amerikaner,” Katja – who goes by “Mrs. Saxon” on the channel – told host Gordon Kahl that she started Dissident Homeschool because she “was having a rough time finding Nazi-approved school material for [her elementary-age] homeschool children.”
The Lawrences and their 2,300 followers reportedly use the channel to disseminate overtly racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic lesson plans, including several worksheets that have students tracing over quotes from Adolf Hitler.
Dissident Homeschool is now the focus of a “compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements” review, a state official familiar with the investigation told CNN this week.
But despite the channel’s objectionable material, the state insider told the network that Ohio officials are limited in their ability to overhaul the curriculum.
Under Ohio law, the outlet said, the Department of Education does not review or approve homeschool content.
Parents who homeschool in the state are reportedly only required to provide yearly written notification and reassurances that includes 900 hours of instruction across multiple subjects, a brief outline of the intended curriculum and assurance that the instructor has a high-school degree or the equivalent.
Even so, officials are scrambling to distance themselves from Dissident Homeschool, with Eric Landversicht, superintendent of the Upper Sandusky Exempted Village School District, writing in a Jan. 30 statement that the district “vehemently condemns” the network’s content.
Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association, told CNN that the channel’s “kind of hate has no place in our state.”
While DiMauro said that Dissident Homeschool’s lessons were “not reflective of the larger homeschooling community,” he admitted that the lack of accountability for homeschooling families allowed extreme ideologies to infiltrate the system.
“People are choosing to remove themselves and remove their children from the education system,” he said.
“When that’s the environment you’re in, it opens the door to all kinds of people with all kinds of ideological perspectives to fill that gap.”
Several comments in the Dissident Homeschool chat reflect DiMauro’s analysis. According to VICE News, one parent wrote that they “don’t even want [their] kids exposed to the gay loving, anti-family, Jew factory that is public school.”
Dr. Stephanie K. Siddens, the interim superintendent of Public Instruction in Ohio, issued her own statement on Jan. 30.
“I am outraged and saddened. There is absolutely no place for hate-filled, divisive and hurtful instruction in Ohio’s schools, including our state’s home-schooling community,” she said.
“I emphatically and categorically denounce the racist, antisemitic and fascist ideology and materials being circulated as reported in recent media stories.”
VICE News’ report also noted concerns about the Lawrences encouraging Dissident Homeschool members — some of whom hailed from Norway, Germany and the UK — to take their far-right ideologies offline by joining local hate groups.
“There is a huge network of people like us,” Katja reportedly wrote of the family’s decision to join secretive “pool parties” hosted by the white supremacist group The Right Stuff.
“We joined a pool party and our children now play with other white children where they can speak and play freely,” she gushed.
But while the potential results of the DOE investigation remain unclear, the Lawrences have already faced pushback from others in the Upper Sandusky community.
Earlier this week, WTVG reported that the Wyandot County Sheriff’s Office denied rumors that members of the Dissident Homeschool network were affiliated with the office.
Sheriff Todd Frey clarified this week that some reported members may have worked “with or for” a company that designed the department’s website almost a decade ago.
“We, like all decent people, are disgusted and appalled that outliers in our community are teaching hatred and contempt to the most vulnerable among us, our children,” he assured residents.
CNN also reported Thursday that Logan Lawrence was no longer affiliated with his family’s insurance agency following a statement from the company denouncing the couple’s behavior as “disturbing and secretive.”
“The viewpoints & ideology recently expressed by Logan Lawrence and his wife in no way represent the values of Lawrence Insurance Agency,” the statement read.
“We emphatically denounce what they have said and done & we wholeheartedly empathize with all who have been hurt, upset, and disturbed by their conduct.”
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