West Virginia Senate approves “Tebow” bill allowing home-schooled students to participate in interscholastic sports

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that in a 25-8 vote, the West Virginia Senate has passed legislation that would allow home-schooled students and students at private schools unaffiliated with the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission  to join sports teams and take part in other extracurricular activities at middle and high schools. The proposed legislation is known as a “Tim Tebow” bill. Supporters of the bill argue that it will eliminate discrimination against home-schooled students.

Opponents of the bill argue that home-schooled students could displace public school students on sports teams that have smaller rosters, like basketball teams. Similar legislation in other states also has sparked complaints about unfair recruiting practices. Under the West Virginia bill, students at private schools that don’t offer certain sports could also play for SSAC-sanctioned schools that do.

Tebow, a former home-schooled student who played for private and public schools in Florida, won the Heisman Trophy as a quarterback for the University of Florida. According to the bill named after him, home-schooled students would have to meet academic standards — by showing a portfolio of work or by scoring in the 25th percentile on a standardized exam — in order to join public school sports teams. Students would also have to adhere to codes of conduct to stay eligible.

The bill  gives SSAC-member private schools the option of accepting home-schooled students. About 30 states allow homeschoolers to take part in public school athletics.

Source: Charleston Gazette-Mail, 2/17/16, By Eric Eyre

[Editor’s Note: In February 2015, Legal Clips summarized an article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch reporting that the Virginia Senate, on a 22-13 vote, approved an amended version of House Bill 1626 that would give local school districts the option of allowing home-schooled students to participate in public school athletics and other school-sponsored activities. The legislation known as the “Tebow Bill”  is nicknamed for Tim Tebow, who was home-schooled before he became a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at the University of Florida.] 

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