I’ve waited two days to write this post, believing it’s best to err on the side of caution when the stakes are potentially very high. Having waited two days, and having considered all the harassing phone calls, all the blisteringly-written letters, all the provoking emails, all the threatened lawsuits… well… enough is enough.
Mimi Rothschild contacted our advertising manager last week “seeking to run a large ad campaign in Home Education Magazine.” Knowing our lengthy history with this individual – her last contentious email and phone call were in February – our advertising manager contacted us and asked if we wanted to run her advertisements. We said no, we did not want her advertising in our magazine, for reasons which can be readily identified through our past communications with Mimi and her multiple dbas and aliases.
True to form, when we said no, Mimi called our advertising manager, Barb Lundgren, “…to try to persuade her to intercede and impress her with the Rothchild plan of spending big and overwhelming the homeschool market with K-12 options…” (Barb’s phrasing). Barb explained her concern about Mimi’s plan: “She says she’s just spent $28,000 with The Link, $20,000 with Homeschool Today and lots more with websites and other publications in her broad commitment to completely and effectively take over the homeschool market. She detailed this not in an egotistic way, but in a simple business strategy way.”
Well… From what we’ve seen, Mimi Rothschild has been working in this direction for many years. Two years ago an incomplete listing of her multitudinous websites included: thegraceacademy.org, christianhomeschoolers.info, familyhomeschooling.com, helpforhomeschooling.com, homeschoolercentral.com, homeschoolersworld.com, homeschoolinganswers.com, homeschoolingdepot.com, homeschoolingforchrist.com, homeschoolingguide.org, homeschoolinghome.com, homeschoolinginfo.org, homeschoolingkids.org, homeschoolinglinks.net, homeschoolingmadeeasy.com, homeschoolingpro.org, homeschoolingreading.com, homeschoolingzone.com, homeschoooling.com, newversion.org, radiograce.com, radiograce.net, radiograce.org, thenarniaacademy.com, thenarniaacademy.net, thenarniaacademy.org, thevictorymathacademy.com, thevictorymathacademy.org, victorymath.com, victorymath.org, victorymathacademy.com, victorymathacademy.org, cyberschoolmail.org, eschoolhouse.org, homeschoolingsports.com, interactiveeducationnetwork.com, interactiveeducationnetwork.org, jubileeacademy.net, jubileeacademy.org, kidsstarport.com, learningbygrace.org, newhopehomeschool.com, newhopehomeschool.org, readingcamp.com, satacademy.org, theimagineacademy.org, thejubileeacademy.com, thejubileeacademy.net, thejubileeacademy.org, themorningstaracademy.org, thenhca.com, thesatacademy.org, tutorbots.com, southernbaptistacademy.com, southernbaptistacademy.net, southernbaptistacademy.org, southernbaptistelementaryschool.com, southernbaptistelementaryschool.net, southernbaptistelementaryschool.org, southernbaptisthighschool.com, southernbaptisthighschool.net, southernbaptisthighschool.org, southernbaptisthomeschooler.com, southernbaptisthomeschooler.net, southernbaptisthomeschooler.org, southernbaptisthomeschooling.com, southernbaptisthomeschooling.net, southernbaptisthomeschooling.org, southernbaptistmiddleschool.com, southernbaptistmiddleschool.net, southernbaptistmiddleschool.org, southernbaptistonlineacademy.com, southernbaptistonlineacademy.net, southernbaptistonlineacademy.org, southernbaptistschool.net, southernbaptistschool.org, thesouthernbaptistacademy.com, thesouthernbaptistacademy.net, thesouthernbaptistacademy.org, thesouthernbaptistonlineacademy.com, thesouthernbaptistonlineacademy.net, thesouthernbaptistonlineacademy.org
By anyone’s standards, that’s a pretty serious penchant for domain names. If anyone doubts the veracity of any of the above URLs, here’s where to check them out. It doesn’t take long to determine that most of these sites are simply link farms to each other, creating a virus-like network of carefully inbred efforts. Link collections and “resource listings” within the sites appear impressive at first glance, but almost all of them also go back to Mimi’s own sites.
A side note: Mimi’s latest website is a shrill grandstanding howl about the California legal situation which has been picked up by the Reuters news agency. A much more reasoned response can be found at websites for the Homeschool Association of California and the California Homeschool Network.
Be that as it may… I can’t fault anyone for making use of the Internet in creative new ways. We have quite a few domain names ourselves. But in light of her stated intention to “…completely and effectively take over the homeschool market…” her propensity for inventing websites makes me wonder if she isn’t already well on her way to achieving that goal.
And here’s where things start getting really interesting. Almost all of Mimi’s sites include a link to her rather impressive Curriculum Vitae, which touts her as a “27 years successful veteran providing fiscal, strategic and operational leadership in education, technology and manufacturing.” The site lists her as having authored seven books and over 500 articles; a CEO several times over; founder of multiple academies; Recipient of Small Business Innovation Research Award; developed the largest cyber charter school serving K-12 students in the world; a sculptor who’s provided sculpting and design services to Walt Disney, Franklin Mint, Lenox China and others; developed radio programs for Christian markets around the country; and her listing of services, honors and awards is almost mind-boggling.
But with minor exceptions, the only source of information about these impressive achievements is her own vast collection of websites, which promote her as “a homeschooling visionary” and an “Activist/National Expert on Parent, Student and Children’s Rights including Homeschooling and education alternatives.”
What the heck’s going on here?
As strange as it may seem, there are very few clues left scattered around the Internet, but years of dealing with Mimi have given me a collection of information about her which has not yet been successfully purged (brace yourself for this little tour):
American Homeschool Association’s News Blog:
Is There a Lawyer in the House?
This is, in large part, an overblown reaction to a post by our old friend Daryl Cobranchi at his own blog, Cobranchi.com. There are some pretty interesting comments at that blog, well worth clicking over and reading a few. Also interesting are the email exchanges between Daryl and Mimi, which Daryl generously shares for everyone’s elucidation in this post.
[An aside: As a result of the illuminating exchange between them, Mimi bought up the domain names cobranchi.net, cobranchi.info, and cobranchi.org – to what purpose is anyone’s guess.]
But back to the AHA blog above, in which the conversation continued as people shared observations and comments. Here’s a sampling:
“Mimi Rothschild’s new company Learning By Grace is advertising something they call Partners By Grace and it looks to me like it may be a way for her to catch more unsuspecting homeschool fish with one net. My memories of her involvement with Einstein Academy are way too fresh for me to imagine that this could be legitimate.”
“Just so everyone knows, Sara is probably someone from the Grace Academy. Its a long known tactic of theirs to post under many different guises as “satisfied customers”…”
“i’m always one to give the benefit of the doubt, but after hearing about the home schooling legal issues, i think it’s too many accidents in her career to be a coincidence.”
“Have you seen the list of lawsuits againt her, her husband and their companies at http://courts.phila.gov and searching under last name Rothschild and first initial M? If you search under their company Learning By Grace you come up with even more!”
And then a comment by Mimi taking Daryl to task, followed by two gushingly supportive posts from “Shelly” and “DJ.” The next post is mine, pointing out that all three posts are from the same IP address. Daryl adds that a “Lauren” at his blog has the same IP address.
I commented again: “Our office manager tells me Mimi has called trying to contact me and discern what she’s done to upset me. Mimi – if you’re reading this don’t bother to call our office again. I’m not there and they usually don’t know where I am. If you’ve got something to say, say it in public.”
Another comment by me on the same day: “She called back and harassed our office manager, Stacy, again. Mimi asked her about our ad manager, Barb Lundgren, and our friend and ex-columnist Ann Zeise. She asked if we’re Christians, called Stacy a liar, accused her of being me in disguise, claimed she’s a millionaire and has a good lawyer, threatened a lawsuit… Typical Mimi stuff.”
Mimi replied with another comment of her own, asking in part, “I have requested that you contact me so that I can help make right whatever it is that you think I have done to you or others. I do not believe we have ever met or spoken and I would very much appreciate the opportunity to respond to your allegations.”
I replied: “Mimi, I am not going to talk to you in private. If you have something to say, say it here where whoever is interested and involved in this can read it – and many people are much more interested and involved than I am at this point. I am merely providing an interactive forum. Use it.”
There’s an exchange between myself and Mie Kenedy, who is a representative of the company which made the TypePad blog, Six Apart, and a bona fide questionable post is removed at Mimi’s request. I wrote, “Thank you for informing me of your decision, Mie. We are in the process of moving all our weblogs to our own server where we can control the content of situations such as this one with Mimi Roth (her real name). It’s a very long, very sad story…”
The next post made me carefully consider how deep this whole thing was getting: “…this has gotten way freaky. I am sorry you have to put up with this for merely mentioning another site where the information was first mentioned. I do not understand the motivations or drive behind anyone that would persue you in this manner. At least by keeping the records public, there are multiple witnesses to the events, and not the typical ‘your word against her word’ scenario. Good luck Helen. This one is rather scary.”
Over the next few months the comments kept coming in:
“Regardless of the smoke screen anyone may try to create, the freedom of speech, expression and opinion has always served best when done in an open, public and transparent fashion. Anyone who suggests that discussion only take place in private looks like they have something to hide.”
“Our children at Einstein for just a few days. When they failed to produce the needed materials and resourses to educate our children we withdrew. To our surprise Mimi, who had been nothing but a charmer tore into us like a pitbull on bacon grease. When we tried to calmly bring the Lord into the conversation she screamed,”Don’t bring God into this…”. While the pressures of the moment might have been truly monumental on Mimi at the time, that one statement revealed a very troubling thought. When you are in ministry where are youi not supposed to bring God into it?”
“What happened is sickening, Rothschild and Mandel (her husband) basically bilked the state out of money for a year, spent next to none of it on the students and curriculum as they were supposed to, and instead funded their own private enterprise. The fact that they appear to have gotten away with it makes me sick, and my whole experience with Einstein has made me wary of any charter schools. I would be happy to discuss this further with you, and please don’t let Mimi know I wrote you, the woman is crazy and would probably level a suit at me!”
“These people have so many aliases its not even funny. Just go to http://courts.phila.gov/ and put in all versions of their names and their companies:
Learning By Grace
there might be more that I don’t even know of
I guarantee you will find lawsuits under each name. I would also recommend paying the twenty bucks it takes to do a public records search on Mimi. I am sure you will find it very informative.”
“People do your research on what it takes to become “accredited” From the research I have done, it doesn’t take much. Pretty much anyone can claim they are accredited, its almost as easy as getting something notarized. Ask Mimi who they are accredited by and then research the company that accredited them!”
“I just read all of the comments on this page… I also recently read Daryls page, http://criss-news.blogspot.com/. I’ve found all of it to be incredibly interesting. I have a huge story of my own with Mimi, at this time I am not sure it would be wise to share, due to incredibly similar threats I have received from her. It’s amazing how I have had such a similar experience. To reveal a little bit about myself, I have known this woman for many many years, and she just recently turned on me(I had no idea about the stuff I am reading by the way about her behavior). She has made threat after threat to me over the past 7 months and I finally had to file a Protection From Abuse order against her for stalking me, my husband and his family. Then in court, she asked for a continuance twice, over 12 weeks in total, wasting my time in court, she knows how to twist any language, oh and shes not afraid to lie to the judge either. It has been a horrible experience. Like someone else said, she is simply a sad person. She feels as though she is the victim, but she doesn’t realize that she needs to take control of her own actions. As one person put it, “Mimi, you will have to reap what you sew, nothing in life happens coincidentally. Events and actions lead to consiquences and reactions, you are not exempt!” It’s really a sad thing and I have empathy for her, I really do. But my empathy ends when someone attacks me and my family. It’s a pretty tragic story and maybe I will post it at some point. I really don’t want to hurt her any more by even posting this message, but I just needed to reach out, its nice to know that I am not the only one dealing with her.(Not that I want anyone else to suffer, but there is something that helps about knowing that I am not alone, it also helps to be able to see that this is a pattern of hers, so if it comes down to it, I will be able to show the courts!) P.S. If you don’t know about a Protection From Abuse order, it is not a civil charge or a criminal charge, it doesn’t ask anything of the “defendant”, she doesn’t even have to admit any guilt. I don’t want money from this woman, I don’t want anything from her. All the PFA asks for is for her to stop harassing me!”
The comments on that blog post only get worse. More condemning, more concerning, more convincing. I think there are about 60 now, and the latest one is from just a couple of weeks ago: “Learning By Grace is a joke. How can one company teach a Protestant view of Christianity and a Catholic view? While Mimi Rothschild and Howie Mandel will claim that it’s up to the parents they are still misleading parents in a big way. Plus, they have thousands of students and only 20 or so teachers to “teach” them. There aren’t seperate teachers for each school, it’s the same ones. Twenty is a lot for this time of year too. Mimi Rothschild, Miriam Rothschild, Mimi Mandel, Miriam Mandel, Miriam Rittenhouse, Miriam Roth, Mimi Roth, Howie Mandel, Howard Mandel, Duncan Rize, Learning By Grace, The MorningStar Academy, Homeschooling, Home school, homeschool, online academy, The Jubilee Academy, The Grace Academy, Diana Dahl, The K12 Free Homeschool Academy, Partners By Grace, The Southern Baptist Academy, Reverse The Ruling, The Cambridge Academy, The National Academy for the Gifted”
Home Education & Other Stuff
This is the previously mentioned Daryl Cobranchi’s blog, and his post is a link to a now-removed Wikipedia entry touting Mimi’s “contributions” to the homeschooling movement. The 19 responses found here are interesting and enlightening, especially the prompt response from Wikipedia, which deleted Mimi’s entry due to “(lack of sources / dubious notability / advertisement).”
The Wikipedia deletion log takes proper note of the event:
15:50, 3 October 2006 David.Monniaux (Talk | contribs) deleted “Mimi Rothschild” (self-promotional bio without sources)
Natalie Criss is a homeschooling mom and blogger whose Ramblings, Rants & Remedies blog is always thoughtful and well-written. Her 6/14/05 post, “Today must be my birthday!” is eye-opening, as she replies to a cease-and-desist letter from Mimi: “When dealing with a threatening person it’s best to keep all this out in the open, therefore this is as direct as any response to Mimi from me will get. Just wanted to lend some perspective to anyone who might have thought I was being unfair.”
HEM’s own newshawk, Valerie Moon, picked up the story. Sample comments: “Yes, Tammy, there is a person named Mimi Rothschild. And the reason we care is because she has single-handedly turned the pure act of educating your own child into a circus sideshow.” And “Former Learning By Grace families can only hope that someday all of their scams will come to light and homeschooling can go back to the safe environment it started out as.”
Those comments were followed by two indignantly defensive posts from “Marilyn” and “LouAnne,” which led to this comment from Valerie: “Because both LouAnne and Marilyn’s comments arrived in my inbox with the same ISP number (a Kinko’s in Los Angeles), and time-stamped just one half-hour apart, I looked a little more closely at their comments, and commented:”
“In any case, I didn’t write anything about Learning By Grace. What I wrote about was the Wikipedia kerfluffle concerning the entry formerly known as “Mimi Rothschild.” Still, the similarity in styles, and the ‘coincidence’ of two posts coming from the same Kinko’s store within a half-hour of each other, makes me think that someone’s being not quite up-front about who they are, or their interest in the discussion.”
And another comment from the orignial discussion: “Having been to the Learning By Grace offices, I can tell you the place is a fraud. There are about 20 ‘teachers’ for the thousands of students they educate in all of their so-called ‘academies.’ The materials they send out are simply public domain materials (read: over 100 years old) that have been edited into today’s language. ‘Teachers’ simply email back cut-and-paste responses. Student work is barely graded beyond a glance. LBG is a waste of money.”
So what is one supposed to make of this complex assemblage of smoke and mirrors?
Can Mimi Rothschild actually “…completely and effectively take over the homeschool market…?”
What do you think?