Two school districts in two different states got recent media coverage because of their homeschool participation policies. It’s always useful to compare notes on policies and rules to see what works in the long run.
In Tiverton, Rhode Island – some homeschoolers are asking the School Committee for participation in selective school classes:
The Herald News - Tiverton taking a look at whether to allow home-schooled students into some high school classes By Kevin O’Connor
The School Committee must decide when a nonstudent is a student.
Parents of home-schooled children asked the committee at its meeting last week to determine how many high school classes the home-schooled students could take.
The answer is, no one knows, Superintendent William Rearick told the committee.
Home-schooled students have no right to take classes in public schools, Rearick told the committee.
Tiverton’s school lawyer advised the Committee the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) “has encouraged schools to allow them to participate in extracurricular activities.” Tiverton homeschoolers are currently allowed to participate in band and team sports. The lawyer also recommended a policy be set for private school participation in the public school.
Meanwhile, in Illinois, the Lake Zurich D-95 School Board dropped any homeschool participation in extra-curriculars after the state ‘middle-man’ - Illinois High School Association (IHSA) – protested the district’s allowances for homeschoolers.
The Community Unit School District 95 Board of Education has opted against crafting a policy that would enable home-schooled students to continue competing on the district’s athletic teams or other extracurricular activities.
The board decision comes about one month after District 95 was notified that its school weren’t complying with one of the by-laws of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), which requires home-schooled students to meet certain criteria before they can compete or participate in extracurricular activities at their local high school.
Some Illinois homeschoolers are initiating, ‘helping’ set local policy and participating in public school sports/activities. In Illinois, the Illinois High School Association created by-laws for local school districts to follow in approving private school participation policy. In the District 95 case above – when IHSA was notified – they reviewed and considered the school district policy lax.
If considered, Illinois school district handbooks usually include approved homeschool policy for this participation, and other private schools are generally not invited. Some of these school districts are asking for homeschool registration information to be sent to the regional offices of education and IL State Board of Education, which is an over-compliant demand having nothing to do with public school extra-curricular participation.
So the beat goes on. This public school participation issue is a growing trend in homeschooling communities across the country. More homeschoolers feel entitled enough with tax payments to aggressively pursue the matter with public school officials on a local and state level. We will continue watch on how it all plays out.