CHARLESTON, W.Va. — On Monday, the House of Delegates passed a bill that would allow homeschool students to play public school sports if certain requirements are met.
HB 3127 is similar to the state Senate’s ‘Tebow Bill’ that was passed a few weeks ago but has a few key differences. SB 131 allows students in non-West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission (SSAC) private schools to play public school sports.
House Education Committee Chairman Joe Ellington, R-Mercer, read through the bill before passage on Monday explaining that all homeschool students would agree to comply with all disciplinary rules of the SSAC and the county board in which the homeschool student lives.
Students would also agree to obey all rules of the SSAC governing awards, all-star games, parental consents, physical exams, vaccinations, and counties that employ random drug screenings to high school athletes, according to Ellington.
“The committee substitute also provides that if a homeschooled student leaves a member school during the same school year, the same transfer protocol as any member to member transfers,” he said.
“In addition, if there are any reasonable fees that may be charged for the student to participate, they can employ.”
Ellington further said that the SSAC is on board with the transfer rules in the House’s bill. If the student is in public school and then transfers to home school they would have to sit out a year.
“That has been one of the concerns the SSAC has had for kids that were failing out, claiming to be homeschooled, meeting the requirements and going back in somewhere else. This strengthens that,” he said.
To be eligible under this bill, a home school student must be enrolled in one virtual school course through their county school system or state Department of Education. The current rule from the SSAC allows virtual school students to participate in sports if they take four virtual classes.
SSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolan previously stated that reducing it to one course in the House bill was a compromise to get the transfer language in the bill.
Other requirements for the bill include the student would only be eligible to play for a school in his or her attendance zone, show academic growth on standardized testing along with meeting age and other eligibility requirements.
Morgan County Delegate Daryl Cowles was the other person to speak on the bill before the vote. He said it’s a win-win for the state as homeschooling is the only option for some students and they deserve every right to play.
“They are learning life lessons,” he said. “Sportsmanship, leadership, disappointment, victory, teamwork, fellowship, friendship, discipline. That’s what we are talking about.
“With these additional students, homeschool, private school whatever it may be, I think our communities and state will be winners across the board.”
The bill now heads to the Senate but will likely be stalled for a few days as crossover day is Wednesday in the legislature. The roll call on the vote Monday was 61-38-1.