Task Force Meets to Tackle Home School Sports Issue
A statewide task force meeting in Albemarle County is tackling the possibility of home-school students playing public school sports. Members met Monday to prepare a final report for lawmakers and school boards weighing the pros and cons.
A central Virginia delegate is also tweaking his so-called "Tim Tebow bill" to take the issue back to Richmond.
Delegate Rob Bell says he plans to reintroduce a bill next year that would allow school boards, and not the Virginia High School League (VHSL), to set the policies for playing the game.
Members of the VSBA Presidential Discussion Group on Homeschoolers Participation in VHSL Activities task force, huddled around an Albemarle County meeting room table Monday to discuss how the state should allow home-schoolers in high school sports.
"They've had incredibly productive dialogue," Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) President Joan Wodiska said.
The high school principals, coaches, school board members, and home-school parents are trying to reach a consensus on their concerns. Right now, the law bars school boards from allowing home-schoolers to participate in interscholastic sports regulated by the VHSL.
Tom Horn, the president of the Virginia Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (VIAAA), and task force co-chair, said, "You have to overcome the philosophical divide."
The VIAAA is against opening team rosters to home-schoolers. "Interscholastic sports are an extension of the educational values and culture that exist in that school," Horn said. "It's not something you can drop in on and benefit from."
Horn's committee counterpart, Amy Wilson, with the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, represents nearly 6,000 high school-aged students taught at home across the commonwealth.
"There is a feeling of inequity for some families that their children cannot participate in programs right there at home," said Wilson.
She hopes the group's final report can guide school boards to set eligibility standards and other policies, if the law changes.
"When, hopefully, it comes to pass that home-schoolers can participate in these programs, it can be a smooth transition that is as equitable and manageable as possible for everyone," Wilson said.
The change would prevent home school students and parents from playing offense forever with coaches and schools.
Wodiska said, "We're confident the report that's going to be produced out of the task force, will arm - not only the General Assembly - but more importantly the general public with information about this very sensitive issue."
Right now, 29 states allow at least limited participation by home-schoolers. The VSBA expects to put together what it's calling the state's most comprehensive report on this issue by the end of the month.
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