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Crowd gathers before divorce trial linked to home-schooling
By Shane Anthony
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
ST. CHARLES -- About 40 people gathered outside the St. Charles County Circuit Courthouse this morning for a rally and press conference before a divorce trial in which they say home-schooling is an issue.
The Jeff Naeger and Lisa Payne-Naeger divorce case has drawn attention from home-schoolers across the nation, said rally organizer Stephanie Rubach. Naeger wants the children to attend private schools. Payne-Naeger, a former Francis Howell School Board member, wants to continue home-schooling her children, who are 14 and 16.
Rubach said she was confident the judge in the case would be objective, but she said she and others wanted to make sure the law was followed.
"It's up to us to hold the courts accountable," Rubach said.
Rubach and other speakers said they supported parents' rights in general. They said they objected to a court order that prevented either parent from talking to the children about the divorce case. Another point of contention, they said, was the guardian ad litem's efforts to have Payne-Naeger's teaching abilities tested. The guardian ad litem is assigned to represent the children's best interests in court.
Neither of the divorcing parties attended the rally.
The case drew attention on the Internet through speaking engagements Payne-Naeger has held and blog postings in support of her.
But on the courthouse's fifth floor, where the trial started, attorneys said the case does not revolve solely around the education issue.
"This is not a referendum on home-schooling," said Joel Eisenstein, Payne-Naeger's attorney