"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Media Picks Up Case of Homeschooling Mother

July 13th, 2009 by mopns · No Comments

After our post last week, this St. Charles County parental rights case is starting to get media attention.

STL Post Dispatch:

One year into a tumultuous term on the Francis Howell School Board, Lisa Payne-Naeger pulled her children out of public school, choosing to educate them herself at home. After seeing firsthand the problems facing public schools, she said, she wanted a better experience for her son and daughter.

Eight years later, Payne-Naeger’s continued choice to home-school her children is an issue in her pending divorce, sparking public debate and rallying home-school supporters.

The divorce case is set to be heard July 28 in St. Charles County Circuit Court. If a judge rules in favor of the children’s father, Payne-Naeger could be forced to stop home-schooling her son, 16, and daughter, 14. Read more…

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Tags: St. Louis

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  • 1 Paul Ground // Jul 13, 2009 at 9:31 am

    So we learn a bit more. Jeff Naeger isn’t trying to force his children into public school. No, instead, it appears he’s willing to bear the not-inconsiderable expense to have his children in private school, thereby helping them escape the horrors of a Francis Howell education.

    The Post article raises another meritorious question. Why is it that Mrs. Naeger, in whose maternal qualifications some of MOPNS correspondents so ardently believe, is willing to make a public spectacle of her children, expose them to hostile comment and possible ridicule, and force them to testify in a dissolution case between their parents? Is it because she’s so interested in the kids’ well being? Is it because home schooling is so vastly superior to private schooling, which the husband advocates? Or is it because she wants to control the children and punish her soon-to-be-ex-husband? Having practiced family law for many years, I can assure you that perfectly nice people routinely treat one another savagely in dissolutions. I submit that those of you who are sure you “know” this couple and their children and what is best for them might want to consider how much time you’ve spent inside their marriage.

  • 2 mopns // Jul 13, 2009 at 9:40 am

    Thank you Mr. Ground for your thoughtful comments. We think that if you go back and re-read our previous posts, we never advocated that Mrs. Payne Naeger was a good or a bad mother.

    All were trying to do as a news source was get her story out to the public. It is true, depending on how this case is resolved, that there is the possibility that the Family Court WILL force her children in to public schools.

  • 3 Paul Ground // Jul 13, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    With all due respect, I’d make two points, briefly:

    (1) MOPNS’ headlines and coverage of this story seemed to me to suggest that there was some sort of government action against the idea of home schooling via one particular home schooler, Lisa Naeger. That distorts the facts, and sounds like something that might be printed in the Post Dispatch or the New York Times.

    (2) Since it appears that neither of the parents here wants the children to attend public schools, and since, moreover, some of your correspondents claim the children don’t want to attend public schools, it’s not clear to me on what you found your claim that “there is the possibility that the Family Court WILL force her children in to public schools.” Family courts, in my fairly considerable experience, are not accustomed to force upon the parties to a dissolution outcomes that neither of the parties nor their children want.

  • 4 Concerned // Jul 13, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    First, mom crossed a line by making her case public before her divorce trial. Second, even if mom has been homeschooling during the entire marriage neither Mom nor dad have a superior right to the other to make education decisions. One of the questions that seems obvious to me is “when two parents in a divorce don’t agree how to education children can the court permit homeschooling in the first place?” One of the reasons is not the “Friends of Lisa” mantra that the state is interfering in how a parent raises a child. The state was invited into these children’s lives when these parents couldn’t negotiate an agreement about education in their divorce.

    Mom may lose custody for several reasons 1) I read on the PD site that mom was ordered to be positive about private schooling with the children and yet she directly violated the court order by complaining and her complaints were very public (front page – above the fold – PD article); 2) there are severe allegations about parental alienation and home schooling children with a parent who makes no apologies for wishing dad was out of her kids’ lives is the worst thing for children; 3) arranging a protest outside the courthouse on days the kids will be there to testify — mom doesn’t care about these kids — she cares about her agenda; 4) even though Missouri does not consider it education neglect to have an incompetent parent homeschool for the purposes of putting a child in a foster home — a divorce court has a whole different set of rules to judge custody. Since Ms. Naeger will violate any court orders that don’t permit her to homeschool – joint custody is not workable. Therefore — if the Court decides to stop the parental alienation – the Court will have to award legal custody to dad so he can enroll these children in private school.

    Since the article came out I have been reading up on this case. Ms. naeger has taken the scorched earth strategy in trying to win her case. That may work in car accidents but it always backfires in divorce.

    She needs to be VERY careful or the judge may award custody of these kids to dad outright and make mom the part-time parent. Certainly the people I have talked to about this article feel the fact she went to the press in the first place (and entered the lecture circuit) bashing the judge and the kids’ lawyer fir not agreeing with her 100% would be sufficient evidence to give dad custody.

    I am presuming that dad is not an abuser or anything in making those statements. I know a legal secretary in St. Charles and I asked her about this case — her boss isn’t on it but knew all about it — they said Lisa had GPS tracking devices put on her husband’s car to follow him — twice. No one found any girlfriend or drugs or anything. I also heard that she didn’t think dad was entitled to copies of any of the children’s grades.

    At least with institutional schooling you have a teacher or counselor or principal to contact to find out about your kid’s progress and school events, etc. If the only decision-maker and grader is a parent who doesn’t believe that the other parent should have access to grades then home schooling is not in the kid’s best interests in the manner Lisa wants to do it.

    To think — if Lisa had been more accepting of dad’s concerns, given him grades, maybe enrolled them in a few courses dad wanted for them while faking a smiling in front of her kids every time she talked about their father — her home school story would probably be different.

    I wonder how long it will take the judge to rule….

  • 5 B. // Aug 5, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    I know Lisa she is a wonderful mother. The father was dandy with homeschooling until he filed for divorce. The kids are teenagers and they want to continue to homeschool. They have rights and those rights should be respected. I set throught the trial and an expert in the fied of education stated that the kid should continue homeschooling and that they are doing very well

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