By Victor Skinner
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Home schooled students in the Buckeye State now have the same opportunities to participate in sports or other extracurricular activities as students in traditional public schools.
A new law passed with the state’s budget requires public school districts to allow home schooled students who live within district boundaries to participate in school sports and other activities. Before the law change, public schools were given discretion whether or not to allow homeschoolers to participate, and most shut them out, the Newark Advocate reports.
Deborah Moore, associate commissioner for the Ohio High School Athletic Association, told the news site public schools aren’t very excited about the new rules.
“We have heard quite a bit from our member schools,” she said. “I don’t think they’re real thrilled. They are used to creating eligibility standards on their own and, really, they are amazed (the law was put in place) without thorough vetting by the board.”
We’re amazed public schools have prevented Ohio taxpayers from accessing the services they’ve paid for through taxes. Home school families pay the same school property taxes as families who send their children to public schools, and deserve equal access to all of their home district’s services, whether they use them or not.
That logical reasoning is why Rep. Dave Hall proposed the change. There’s also the added benefit of helping to dispel myths about each group and providing more opportunities for local youngsters to learn and play together, he told the Newark Advocate.
“This could be a lifetime relationship,” he said.
Public school officials and other critics contend the new rules could be abused by students to avoid academic or other eligibility requirements for sports, but the law makes it clear participating students – whether homeschooled or regular public school students – will have to pay the same fees and meet the same basic academic and other requirements.
Home schooled students, however, don’t always use the same marking periods or grading systems as the state, so they are required to certify their academic progress annually though standardized tests or other reviews.
The state board of education is in the process of developing rules for homeschooler eligibility, with the aim of ensuring academic integrity, the news site reports.