CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Heather Clawges was holding out hope for the passage of a bill that would open sports and other extracurricular activities at public schools and some private schools to home-schooled students, but with just five days left in this year’s Regular Legislative Session she says that doesn’t look promising.
“I was hoping that it would move further in the House this year,” Clawges, a pediatrician from Lewisburg, told MetroNews Tuesday.
On Feb. 17, the Senate approved SB 105, sending it to the House of Delegates. The bill is currently pending in the House Education Committee, but has not been discussed.
The legislation, also called the “Tim Tebow Act”, is named after Tebow, a Heisman Trophy winner and home-schooled student in Jacksonville, Fla. who gained the “Mr. Football” title for leading Nease High School to the state championship game.
“What if our state has a Tim Tebow that is sitting out there and is not allowed to play?” Clawges asked. “We’re actually causing this child to not get the opportunity to do something great.”
As proposed, home-schooled students would not be guaranteed a spot on a sports team or other organization, but would be permitted to try out for those groups along with public school students.
“Just give them a chance,” Clawges said. “Just because a child isn’t a fit for the education part doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be allowed to do the extracurricular part because we’re paying for it.”
But opponents say a home-schooled student needs to be academically eligible to participate in these activities. Clawges argued the kids work just as hard to complete one exam in which they have to receive a C or above in order to try out for a team. Public school kids have to maintain a 2.0 grade point average.
Clawges said with minimal recreational leagues for students in middle school or older in West Virginia, it’s difficult to send home-schoolers elsewhere.
“The problem is we live in a state that does not have many opportunities and so the only opportunity is through the public school system,” she said.
“It is public, so the word public means ‘open to the community,'” she noted.
The bill would have to make it through both the House Education Committee and the House Judiciary Committee to reach the House floor in a matter of days before the end of the session on Saturday night.