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House Bill 1906 would entitle any child from 5 to 21 to participate in extracurricular activities, including students who are being educated by other means (i.e. homeschooling). In order to be eligible to participate in the extracurricular activities the homeschool students will be required to meet the eligibility rules and polices of the local school district that apply to all other children.
While HSLDA is generally neutral on "equal access" bills like House Bill 1906, there are some concerns about this bill.
First, Oklahoma doesn't currently require any reporting or testing of homeschool students. In order to participate in extracurricular activities you will have to comply with all of the same requirements that public school students are required to, including academic eligibility. It is unclear how some of those requirements are going to play out as it relates to homeschool students. While homeschool students shouldn't have to worry about being required to use the same curriculum as the local public school, they may have to provide academic progress information for their child to be allow to participate in certain activities, particular sports. At this point it is just unclear what if anything else will be required.
Second, while participating would be voluntary, it is unclear if this bill could impact all homeschool families in the future. There are 10 states that have no reporting/testing requirements for homeschool students making them somewhat similar to Oklahoma. Only one (Alaska) provides a "right" for homeschool students to participate in extracurricular activities like House Bill 1906 will. However, Alaska requires that the homeschool program be accredited by a recognized accrediting body in order to participate. Four of the remaining nine states don't allow homeschool students to participate in extracurricular programs and the other five require the student to be enrolled part-time (as high as 80% of the time in Missouri) or something similar in order to participate. More information about this can be found below.
HSLDA is generally neutral about equal access bills but this bill leaves more questions about the potential impact to homeschool students wanting to participate. While there could be no negative harm to homeschool students, after all it is voluntary, it is hard to say what both the short and long-term effect could be on this bill.
1/17/2013 (House) Introduced
02/04/2013 (House) First Reading
02/04/2013 (House) Authored by Representative Cleveland, Echols
03/04/2013 (House) Bill read in Committee, Failed to receive motion for vote. Bill is (effectively) dead.
As far as the overall issue of extracurricular activities these are some of the concerns-
1) Bill is too vague as to what is going to be required for a student to be eligible. Current OSAA regulations require the following:
- 90% attendance in class,
- Passing grade in any five subjects to be counted for graduation in that last semester,
- Eligibility checks are made after three weeks of a semester to maintain eligibility, and
- Seniors must be enrolled in at least four classes.
How are these requirements going to play out for homeschool students? It would seems likely that extensive rules would be needed to address these issues. Most likely this would have to happen at the OSAA level. It is uncertain whether OSAA would understand the true diversity of homeschool programs and it could lead to rather draconian requirements for homeschool school students to demonstrate scholastic eligibility.
2) Of the 10 states that have no reporting/testing requirements like Oklahoma, only one has a right to participate in extracurricular activities (Alaska). However, even then your program must be accredited by a recognized accrediting body. We know of no homeschool students who have been able to participate in sports.
- In Idaho homeschool students have a right to dual enroll and then participate in any public school program including nonacademic activities. The parent determine academic eligibility according to state law.
- In Illinois, a homeschool student “may” enroll part-time to participate. The school board has the power to accept these students and the IHSA allows the district to determine whether a homeschool student can participate in interscholastic activities.
- Michigan states that to participate in extracurricular activities a student should be enrolled part-time in school. However, MHSAA eligibility rules require a student to be taking at least 66% of a full credit load to be eligible to play sports.
- Missouri might allow a student to enroll part-time in public school but hasn’t been tested in court. MSHSAA requires the student to be enrolled in at least 80% of the course load which virtually excludes homeschoolers.
- In New Jersey the NJSIAA does allow homeschool students to participate in sports but they have to 1) reside in the district, 2) obtain approval from school board and principal, 3) demonstrate they are academically qualified and receiving an equivalent education, and 4) comply with all other requirements imposed on other members of team.
- Connecticut, Indiana, Oklahoma and Texas have no option whatsoever to participate in extracurricular activities as a homeschool student.
3) Even though voluntary, there is some concern that implementing a “right” to participate in extracurricular activities could lead to regulation of the overall homeschool community. As seen above there is really no state that allows participation without either enrolling in the public school or demonstrating that the student’s educational program is either accredited or equivalent to that of the public school program. Idaho seems to have the least amount of requirements when dual enrolling.
4) HSLDA is generally neutral on extracurricular activities unless there is evidence that a bill would harm the homeschool community in general. At this point in time, it is impossible to determine whether there could be any harm to the general homeschool community given the fact that no other state like Oklahoma has such a statute. What is certain is that additional regulations/polices would have to be implemented after the enactment of this bill.
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