IMPORTANT NEWS FOR OHIO HOMESCHOOLERS!
The State of Ohio just passed a budget that includes important and positive changes for homeschool students! The budget bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Kasich yesterday and takes effect today (Monday, July 1, 2013), states that school district superintendents must permit homeschool students to participate in extracurricular activities available at their local public school.
Until today, students who were taught at home (as well as those in chartered and non-public non-chartered schools) were not afforded the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities available at their local public schools. Unlike their public school peers who experience unfettered access to these activities, all non-enrolled or partially enrolled homeschool students were required to receive special approval from the school district superintendent in order to participate. Regardless of academic eligibility and tax-paying status, a superintendent had the ability to deny a student access to school sports, band and arts programs simply because he or she did not attend a public school full-time.
An amendment to the State of Ohio’s biennial budget (House Bill 59) removes this unfair barrier. Thanks to State Representative Dave Hall (R-Millersburg), the right to participate in extracurricular activities available in resident public schools has been extended to all homeschooled, chartered and non-public non-chartered students.
A few important notes:
· Homeschool students who wish to participate will be held to the same academic, non-academic and financial requirements as their public school peers. All prerequisites and continuing benchmarks must be equally applied to all students, regardless of enrollment status.
· Academic eligibility will be determined using existing Department of Education criteria and processes, the same way it has been in previous years. Simply stated, there are no new “hoops to jump through.”
· If the student’s resident school district does not provide a particular extracurricular activity, a neighboring school district’s superintendent may allow that student to participate. This decision is made at the neighboring school district’s superintendent’s discretion.
This is a victory for homeschoolers in the Buckeye State, but everyone stands to benefit from their participation in extracurricular activities. A charge to my fellow homeschoolers: make good use of this new opportunity.
“Nothing great is ever achieved without much endurance.” –St. Catherine of Siena
-Written by Michael I. McGuire, Representative Dave Hall's Legislative Aide
I did some digging and found the exact wording:
Sec. 3313.5312. (A) A student who is receiving home instruction in accordance with division (A)(2) of section 3321.04 of the Revised Code shall be afforded, by the superintendent of the school district in which the student is entitled to attend school under section 3313.64 or 3313.65 of the Revised Code, the opportunity to participate in any extracurricular activity offered at the district school to which the student otherwise would be assigned during that school year. If more than one school operated by the school district serves the student's grade level, as determined by the district superintendent based on the student's age and academic performance, the student shall be afforded the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities at the school to which the student would be assigned by the superintendent under section 3319.01 of the Revised Code. If a student who is afforded the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities under division (A) of this section wishes to participate in an activity that is offered by the district, the student shall not participate in that activity at another school or school district to which the student is not entitled to attend.
(B) The superintendent of any school district may afford any student who receives home instruction under division (A)(2) of section 3321.04 of the Revised Code, and who is not entitled to attend school in the district under section 3313.64 or 3313.65 of the Revised Code, the opportunity to participate in any extracurricular activity offered by a school of the district, if the district to which the student is entitled to attend does not offer that extracurricular activity.
(C) In order to participate in an extracurricular activity under this section, the student shall be of the appropriate age and grade level, as determined by the superintendent of the district, for the school that offers the extracurricular activity, shall fulfill the same nonacademic and financial requirements as any other participant, and shall fulfill either of the following academic requirements:
(1) If the student received home instruction in the preceding grading period, the student shall meet any academic requirements established by the state board of education for the continuation of home instruction.
(2) If the student did not receive home instruction in the preceding grading period, the student's academic performance during the preceding grading period shall have met any academic standards for eligibility to participate in the program established by the school district.
(D) Eligibility for a student who leaves a school district mid-year for home instruction shall be determined based on an interim academic assessment issued by the district in which the student was enrolled based on the student's work while enrolled in that district.
(E) Any student who commences home instruction after the beginning of a school year and who is, at the time home instruction commences, ineligible to participate in an extracurricular activity due to failure to meet academic standards or any other requirements of the district shall not participate in the extracurricular activity under this section until the student meets the academic requirements established by the state board of education for continuation of home instruction as verified by the superintendent of the district. No student under this section shall be eligible to participate in the same semester in which the student was determined ineligible.
(F) No school district shall impose additional rules on a student to participate under this section that do not apply to other students participating in the same extracurricular activity. No district shall impose fees for a student to participate under this section that exceed any fees charged to other students participating in the same extracurricular activity.
(G) No school district, interscholastic conference, or organization that regulates interscholastic conferences or events shall require a student who is eligible to participate in interscholastic extracurricular activities under this section to meet eligibility requirements that conflict with this section.
Sec. 3313.60. Notwithstanding division (D) of section 3311.52 of the Revised Code, divisions (A) to (E) of this section do not apply to any cooperative education school district established pursuant to divisions (A) to (C) of section 3311.52 of the Revised Code.
I think Noah might actually run cross country for Firestone this year!
Ohioans for Education pick up the story and add more background info!
Prior to the new law, home educated students could only participate in extracurricular activities at their local schools if the school board permitted it.
Ohio’s districts offered a patchwork of policies, many of them banning participation altogether, while others required various levels of part-time enrollment as a condition for participation. The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) allowed home educated high school athletes to participate in high school sports only if their local school board permitted it and only “in accordance with the partial enrollment policy of a Board of Education.” The majority of districts in Ohio did not offer such a policy, severely limiting opportunities for homeschooled students to participate in high school athletics. With the new law, every district in the state will now be required to permit homeschooled students to participate in extracurricular activities—including high school athletics. Like only ten other states, these students will now have equal access to expanded opportunities in their local public schools.
Also included in the new accessibility law are students who attend private schools. Such schools can’t always offer the wide array of extracurricular activities found at the taxpayer-funded public schools. The new law mirrors the legally required accessibility and equal access enjoyed by charter schools (called community schools) in Ohio. The law does not require homeschooled students to attend the public school as a requirement for participation in activities. Hall said the senate tried to add language allowing superintendents to require part-time enrollment in school, but that language was struck from the final budget. The academic requirements for homeschooled students who wish to participate are simple: continue to “meet any academic requirements established by the state board of education for the continuation of home instruction.”
Those who fear that student athletes struggling in school will drop out to homeschool as a way to circumvent academic requirements need not be concerned. Those students will have their eligibility based upon their prior public school interim assessment reports. If a student withdraws from school for the purpose of homeschooling at a time he is academically ineligible to participate in extracurricular activities, he is ineligible for the remainder of the semester and must re-establish academic eligibility the following semester.
While other states (Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, Virginia) have been trying to pass various versions of the “Tebow Bill” to give homeschoolers equal access to extracurricular activities (with slow progress thus far), Ohio legislators changed the state’s policy rather suddenly by quietly adding an amendment to the state’s budget.
This is sure to shake up both the homeschooling community (which isn’t universally in support of such measures) and the athletic world. But Hall says it is be a “win-win” for all involved:
Update July 3, 2013“This allows good, quality education on both sides. And really, truly I think, relationship-building will be strengthened because people have the opportunity to work with the other students. I’m a former coach ‘way back when’ and when you’re a coach you don’t look at where they come from, who their parents are. You look at the individual. You don’t look at the background…I think it strengthens the area and the community by bringing kids together. That’s my belief.”
See discussion of 08 schools and exclusion from other clubs and activities here.