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Drop Sports Eligibility Standards, Schools Ask Move Is Response To Law Allowing Homeschoolers’ Participation

Some school district superintendents want grade and attendance requirements eliminated for participation in high school sports now that home-schoolers will be able to play without meeting those requirements.

Potlatch Superintendent Donald Armstrong, who represents the state’s northcentral region on the Idaho High School Activities Association board, will take the proposal to the sanctioning association in a bid to equalize requirements for taking part in extracurricular activities between home-schoolers and public school students.

The movement is the result of passage earlier this month by state lawmakers of a so-called dual enrollment law that allows home-schoolers or students in private schools to take advantage of academic and nonacademic programs in public schools. In the case of sports or other nonacademic activities, the students must only pass an undefined test to be eligible.

Gov. Phil Batt signed the bill into law last week.

Public school students must be passing five courses and meet specific attendance requirements to be eligible to play sports or take part in other nonacademic activities. With dual enrollment, homeschoolers need not take any courses in the public school to play on its varsity sports teams as long as they pass the test.

And the superintendents believe that should now be the only requirement for enrolled students as well.

While the bill was approved overwhelmingly, a handful of critics warned that it spelled the end to enforcing eligibility requirements.

The legislation was in response to the activities association’s refusal to allow a home-schooler to participate in varsity track. Critics contended legislation was the wrong way to go about it, but they were outvoted.

The state Board of Education will eventually become involved in the issue because someone must determine what kind of test home-schoolers must take to be eligible for sports.

State Schools Superintendent Anne Fox, who campaigned to provide public school access to home-schoolers, was denied money she sought to test every student annually.

Some local school officials estimate that the testing process for homeschoolers could cost $1 million statewide - money they say cash-strapped school districts just do not have.

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