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Story Archives: Home-school athletes meet opposition
|Home-school athletes meet opposition|
Jimmy Henderson, Child Welfare and Attendance Supervisor with the Franklin Parish School Board, said he would recommend against home-schooled students being able to participate in sports if the issue came up in the parish.
"We have some parents in Franklin Parish who home-school their kids and do a super job, but none have asked to participate in sports," Henderson said. "But high school students have to earn so many credits and fall under certain guidelines."
The state legislature voted to leave it up to local school boards to decide whether home-schooled students can participate in sports for either public or private schools in their area.
The state legislature at first ruled that home-school students must be allowed to participate in sports before modifying it by leaving the decision up to local school boards.
There are a number of conditions that must be met by the student and/or the school prior to being permitted to play sports.
-Home-schoolers must meet the same residence requirements as other students.
-The principal of the school must approve the request to play within 30 days.
-The student's parents must complete a written request to participate form within the first two weeks of the school year.
-The individual home-study program must comply with Louisiana guidelines.
-Students must present a transcript of courses taken.
-Students are required to have the same required insurance coverage as typical students. Also, if a student transfers from a classroom setting to a home-school setting during the school year, they are ineligible to participate during that school year.
Franklin Parish head coach Barry Sebren said the bottom line is the coach has the final say to who makes the team.
"I do not know all of the specifics to the rule, but I am sure that if a child that is home-schooled came up here wanting to play a sport I would have to learn the rule real fast," he said. "The coach has the final say as to who is on the team and who is not on the team. If you hold tryouts and the kid can cut the mustard and bring some positives to your program, then I personally would have no problem letting a home-schooled child play."
Mangham High head coach Tommy Tharp said he doesn't have a problem with the ruling if home-schooled students fall under the same guidelines and rules as regular students.
"The biggest potential issue I see is the fairness, or possible lack of, grading from home not being equivilent to grading at the school," Tharp said. "Potentially, if a child is struggling at school, could he be home-schooled enough to raise his or her grades enough to become academically eligible for participation? It leaves lots of room for possible abuse."
Dr. Paul Nelson, Director of Academic Affairs for the Concordia Parish School Board, said he would recommend the Concordia board not allow home-schooled students to participate in sports if the issue came up.
"We haven't had anybody express interest, but our recommendation would be not to allow that because we see so many problems with regards to that situation" Nelson said. "I just can't see a student for whatever reason not coming to school, but can come up to the school at 3 o'clock for sports."
Until this year, it was up to the individual school whether they would permit home-schoolers to play on its teams. Some schools allowed it, most did not.
Nelson said he also doesn't understand how coaches would be able to determine that students eligibility.
"Our students have to take at least four classes a day," Nelson said. "How do you determine how many classes a home-schooled student is taking," he said.
Nelson said it would be difficult for a coach to discipline a home-schooled student.
"If the kid acts up at practice, what kind of leverage or control does the coach have," Nelson said. "If it's a student at the school, he can give him or her some type of school punishment."
Vidalia head football coach Gary Paul Parnham said he believes home-schooling will give some teams an unfair advantage.
"I can see it leading to recruiting," Parnham said. "Anytime you create a new rule, someone is going to push it to the limit."
Parnham said home-schooled students also miss out other activities.
"Going to school is part of the high school athletic experience," he said. "That's a time for the players outside the playing field, getting one-on-one time with their teammates. I definitely think that's an issue."
Ferriday High head football coach Chad Harkins said he doesn't think a student not going to school should be allowed to play.
"Now there may be some exceptions if there is an issue or maybe a disability, which they wouldn't be playing football anyway," Harkins said. "They should be in school.
'"Then again, if a kid who runs a 4.5 in the 40 is home-schooled and comes to me wanting to play, I would have to let him," Harkins said with a laugh.
The Ouachita Parish School Board voted not to allow home-schooled students to participate in athletics, after the state legislature left it up to local school boards to decide whether those students can participate in sports for either public or private schools in their area.
West Monroe head football coach and athletic director Don Shows said he's happy with the board's decision.
"I don't know that home-schooling academic standards are the same as public schools," Shows said. "I think they should be in public school anyway."
Shows said he personally does not have a problem with home-schoolers playing sports and if they show up at West Monroe they will play if they are allowed to play.
"I'm staying out of that part," Shows said. "I just think it opens a can of worms where recruiting becomes a big factor with lots of kids. If a kids doesn't do his school work, he can go home and get home-schooled and become eligible. That kind of thing concerns me. Some people want their cake and eat it, too."
Shows said he doesn't understand the type of message the law is sending. But he also knows some parents feel their kids need to be home-schooled.
"I know some parents want their kids in a Christian setting and are worried about the environment as some schools," he said. "But my thing is they have to be in that environment one day anyway."