No Decision On Whether To Allow Home-schoolers To Play Sports

Board of Education begins discussion on whether to allow home-schooled students to participate in school-sponsored sports teams

The Wall Township Board of Education on Tuesday began a discussion on whether to allow home-schooled children in the district to participate in school-sponsored athletics.

The discussion was first taken up by the board’s Policy Committee, but members were deadlocked 2-2 on whether to allow home-schoolers to participate in school sports competitions, committee head Joseph Tonzola said.

Tonzola kicked the discussion up to the whole committee, which debated the issue for about 30 minutes. No resolution was met. The Policy Committee will again take up the issue at its next meeting. No date was set Tuesday.

The issue stems from a November letter from the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association— the organization that oversees public school sports — that decided to allow home-schoolers to participate in NJIAA sports events if the local board of education approved it and the school and the home school parent complied with the organization’s new guidelines.

It is a discussion that is taking place in school districts throughout the state, Tonzola said.

“They are in the same quandary we are,’’ Tonzola said. “Some of them are saying ‘yes’ some of them are saying ‘no,’ and some are putting it on hold to come back for further discussion.’’

In Brick, the issue was taken up in November and proved controversial.

Board member Deidra Kukuka said she was concerned primarily about how to assess the academic eligibility of a home-schooled student. Students in the district are tested and the benchmarks for academic progress are clearly defined, Kukucka said, but are less transparent with pupils who are home-schooled, who are not evaluated by the district.

 “I don’t know where you get that piece of information,’’ Kukucka said. “That would be my primary concern.’’

Tonzola, without mentioning the name of the district, talked about Brick’s position that an incoming home-schooler must provide a portfolio of work and take a test to prove their academic equivalency with their public school counterparts.

Board President John Tavis said there could be positives in allowing home-schoolers to participate in athletics.

“I was concerned that these students may not be getting the education they should get,’’ Tavis said. “But possibly, if they were involved in sports that they would be held – as Joe (Tonzola) mentioned with all athletes – to a higher criteria. So I think that could be a possible plus.’’

Michael Gross, board attorney, said issues such as this often operate in a spectrum and that the state was moving away from an absolute position where home-schoolers were not allowed to participate in athletics to a place where now local boards could decide whether to allow participation.

“Down the road, I do believe inevitably they will permit them,’’ Gross said.

Board member Ann Moonan said the committee also talked, again without a firm decision, on what other types of activities the district may or may not open up to other students, such as school plays and other extra-curricular activities.

Tim Tebow July 12, 2012 at 04:47 PM
They should 100% be allowed to play. The taxes in Wall are way out of control and they mostly go to the schools. If a parent chooses not to use the school system that they are paying for that is fine. They are paying for the sports teams too. The kids should be able to play. Tim Tebow was home-schooled and I think he did pretty well for himself.
Michael Ferrell July 13, 2012 at 04:37 PM
If a family decides the district is not for them and willing takes their child to home school, or to a private school, it seems obvious that they have rejected the town's package and shouldn't be able to pick and choose what they like. It is a choice, and no one seems to think that if a child isn't in the district, they technically aren't insured as a student, so now we would have some, possibly small, additional charge to all taxpayers as a result. I do strongly agree though that if the district would allow this that there should be testing to insure the player meets the same academic requirements as a regular student.
Abe July 13, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Why can't they pick and choose what they like? It's their child. Nobody else should make that decision. There would be the same number of kids on the team. The sports insurance should not increase. The football team take X amount of players if there are 100, 1000 or 10,000 students in the school.
Suzanne July 17, 2012 at 05:10 PM
being involved with the sports program doesn't involve the student with the "flawed program." It does , however involve the student with being involved with learning the importance of fair play,and competition. Colleges are looking for well rounded students who meet their requirements academically and in extracurricular activity. they don't much care where the student receives his/ her diploma. And if you're talking about having it both ways, why is it alright for the school districts to ask parents of home schooled students, which is a choice allowed by law, to pay taxes to fund the school board and not be able to participate in extracurricular activities that come from those taxes. They have it both ways.
DUKE August 17, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Oh please...get out of the way and let the kids play...better than turning to trouble. Are you people serious??


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