11/05/15 – Commissioner’s Response to BR396 (HB76) Regarding Participation by Non-Public School Students

November 5, 2015 2015-2016 News Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 5, 2015

Commissioner’s Response to Home School Proposal:

“Following the announcement of the bill (BR396) introduced by Representative Stan Lee (R-Lexington) and others on October 30, our office has again received a number of phone calls and emails from media members seeking comment. The proposal as drafted is not a measure to simply allow participation by home schooled students despite any title reference to Tim Tebow, who participated as a home schooled student in Florida. In fact, the actual bill, http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/16rs/HB76.htm, is much more impactful and potentially harmful to education-based athletics and its impact is much more pervasive on our member schools. As it is currently drafted, the bill would fundamentally alter high school athletics and erode the school-based model in our state, as it would allow all nonpublic school student-athletes to attend a nonpublic school (even a KHSAA member school) and yet compete for public schools at their discretion, if the school in which they are attending (including a home school) didn’t offer a specific extracurricular activity. As currently worded, it appears to impact much more than homeschool student participation.

This proposed act, different from past proposed acts, offers a blanket opportunity for any nonpublic school to have its students participate in school-based sports at another school. For example, a strict read would appear to allow a student at Sayre to participate in football in their district of residence. This is much more than just a home school proposal. While nearly all of the efforts of our member schools have been about increasing participation opportunities, this proposal could literally have the impact of reducing participation by encouraging nonpublic schools to not offer certain sports for a variety of reasons, and simply allow those students to play for another public school. It is doubtful this was the author’s intent, but nonetheless, is a very literal possibility. The proposal also does not address any standards for home schooled instruction, which has been a previously identified problem with other proposals as it makes academic comparative equity virtually impossible without such standards.

As Representative Lee has previously stated in public comments, there is ample time before this bill begins to work its way through consideration and the legislative process. We certainly look forward to and welcome the discussion of this topic and alternative thoughts with Rep. Lee and all other members of the General Assembly, as well as our constituents and the KHSAA Board of Control, as we all work together for what is best for students in our Commonwealth.”

-Julian Tackett
KHSAA Commissioner

Background and General Information on Previously Reviewed Proposals Concerning Home Schooled Students and Education-Based Athletics

As the entity designated by the Kentucky General Assembly and the Kentucky Board of Education to manage high school athletics in Kentucky, it is the KHSAA’s responsibility to support the wishes of its 277 member schools, the representatives of which have emphatically been against similar proposals in the past. There are numerous specific challenges and concerns that arise by allowing homeschooled children to compete that have been identified by the member schools in the past, some of which have included:

  • The main disconnect (between enrolled and non-traditional students) is academic accountability. There seem to be no means of verifying the student’s curriculum to allow for comparison of equitable academic performance to those students in public schools. This extends not only to grade awarding concerns but the requirements for a student to be enrolled full-time (four hours per day) of the six hour day for instruction;
  • A lack of any state required certification or requirements for home school instructors (compared to requirements for public school teachers);
  • Participating in high school sports is a privilege which is afforded to those students who regularly attend the school and enroll in the academic curriculum. Other community-based participation opportunities are available for the general citizenry, but this participation is expected to be education and school-based;
  • The ability of students failing to meet the academic standards and requirements of public schools to withdraw from that school and be immediately eligible simply by being enrolled in home school;
  • The financial aspects of the public school being required to manage the personnel and facilities for competition without receiving the state appropriation for those students;
  • Schools covering the expenses of a student who is not paying the full cost of education to attend;
  • The displacement of an otherwise eligible public school student, who has earned their time to participate, by a non-enrolled student;
  • The potential liability and risk of back-and-forth travel to both practices and contests;
  • The potential for a student-athlete to gain a competitive edge on another student athlete. It is possible that a home schooled student is spending the whole day in pursuit of learning or he/she could be on the golf course gaining an advantage on the enrolled student;
  • Concerns about the inclusion of an accurate representation of homeschool athletes in the enrollment counts when considering enrollment based classified sports such as track and football;
  • The argument that in allowing this type of participation, these entities appear to want the best of both worlds, with the membership traditionally forming the general consensus that if they (the parents and students) don’t want the academics, they don’t get the athletics.

– KHSAA –

About the Kentucky High School Athletic Association
The Kentucky High School Athletic Association was organized in 1917 and is the agency designated by the Kentucky Department of Education to manage high school athletics in the Commonwealth. The Association is a voluntary nonprofit 501(c)3 organization made up of 278 member schools both public and private. The KHSAA sanctions 43 state championships in 13 sports and 4 sport-activities, licenses and trains over 4,500 officials, provides catastrophic insurance for its more than 59,000 member school student-athletes in more than 74,000 participation opportunities, as well as overseeing coaching education and sports safety programs.