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3/27/2003 3:04:29 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Maine--Bill to End New Unfair Sports Policy Set for Hearing

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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March 27, 2003

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

The Maine Principal's Association (MPA) shocked the homeschool
community last November by announcing that it would no longer allow
homeschool athletes to participate on private school teams in
interscholastic competition.

Despite several entreaties and warnings from HSLDA, the MPA simply
dug its heels in deeper and refused to reevaluate or delay the
implementation of the abrupt change. The new policy meant that a
homeschooler would play for the local public school team or he could
play for no one.

A bill has been filed in the Maine legislature, LD 687, which would
restore fairness. It would level the playing field by compelling the
MPA to give parents back the choice of whether their child would
compete on a public or private school team.

We need your help this Wednesday when LD 687 will receive a hearing.

ACTION REQUESTED

The Education and Cultural Affairs Committee has scheduled a hearing
on this bill for April 2 at 3:00 p.m. in room 214 of the Cross State
Office Building.

1. Please attend the hearing to show your support for this bill.

2. Call all members of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee
and express your support for the bill. Your message may be as simple
as, "Please support LD 687. It preserves Maine's long tradition of
letting homeschooled students play on private school teams. It gives
parents back the right to choose between having their homeschooled
child participate on a public school team or a private school team."

CONTACT INFORMATION

To leave a message for a committee member who is a representative,
call 1-800-423-2900. For one who is a senator, call 1-800-423-6900.
Members of the committee are listed below:

Senator Neria R. Douglass (D-Androscoggin), Chair
Senator Michael F. Brennan (D-Cumberland)
Senator Betty Lou Mitchell (R-Penobscot)
Representative Glenn A. Cummings (D-Portland), Chair
Representative Rosita Gagne-Friel (D-Buckfield)
Representative Jacqueline R. Norton (D-Bangor)
Representative Jonathan Thomas (D-Orono)
Representative Edward D. Finch (D-Fairfield)
Representative Jeremy Fischer (D-Presque Isle)
Representative Thomas W. Murphy, Jr. (R-Kennebunk)
Representative Mary Black Andrews (R-York)
Representative Mary Ellen Ledwin (R-Holden)
Representative Gerald M. Davis (R-Falmouth)


BACKGROUND

Private schools had a long tradition in Maine of allowing
homeschooled students to play on their teams in interscholastic
events. After a homeschooler participating on a private school team
won state-wide recognition last year, the MPA sent a memo warning
that private school MPA members risked loss of eligibility if they
allowed homeschooled students to play on the team of a private school
in interscholastic competition.

MPA tried to justify the change by claiming its rules required it.
Their own rules, however, say the opposite. Their own rules
specifically exempt homeschoolers from the requirement that they
attend the school on whose team they participate.

MPA further tried to justify the change by saying that since the law
that allows homeschoolers to play on public school teams does not
mention private school teams, participation on a private school team
is therefore forbidden. This is illogical. Permitting one thing in a
law does not automatically forbid another.

On March 18, the MPA sent a memo to its members urging them to
contact members of the Education and Cultural Affairs committee and
oppose LD 687. Their memo cites significant "potential for abuse."
There is potential for abuse in any sports program. This is why the
MPA has rules relating to recruitment, inducement, and influence.
Any NEW potential for abuse created by LD 687 can be handled just the
same as OLD potential for abuse: by implementing and enforcing fair,
appropriate rules.

The memo claims the bill "attacks the very fiber of fair play." It
is difficult to understand, however, why restoring parental choice is
not "fair." Our country has a policy of preventing monopolies.
Monopolies are not fair. The new MPA policy gives public schools a
monopoly on homeschool sports talent. It forces homeschoolers to
play for the public school or no one. This is not fair.

The bill will also allow students who attend private schools, to play
on the team of another private school if his own school does not
offer the activity in which he desires to participate. This would be
a tremendous blessing for parents who have found a private school
that meets their needs, but does not offer a particular activity.

We believe the MPA's new policy violates the law. On March 18, we
filed a legal action asking a court to require the MPA to treat the
Pelletier homeschool family fairly. The judge could make a ruling
that benefits all home school families, but we do not yet know either
how or when he will rule.

For additional information about the lawsuit, go to
http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/hslda/200303/200303200.asp.

For further information about the bill, go to
http://www.hslda.org/Legislation/State/me/2003/MELD687/.

Thank you for making your voice count for the greater liberty of
homeschool families in Maine.

Very truly yours,

Scott A. Woodruff
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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