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Local Schools Can Allow Home-Schooled Students To Play Sports

NJSIAA decision paves the way for home-schooled students to participate

Local public school districts must develop a policy if they choose to allow home-schooled students to participate in district sports, according to the state scholastic sports governing body.

On Nov. 9, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association made an about-face on a previous, long-standing policy that disallowed homeschooled students from participating in scholastic sports programs run out of their home districts.

However, the choice rests with the local district. They are not mandated to allow home-schooled students to participate but must develop guidelines for their participation if they do.

Brick schools Superintendent Walter Hrycenko said the decision has left many school district leaders scrambling to formulate policies consistent with the NJSIAA decision before the winter sports season begins in early December.

"According to the NJSIAA, you can't just say, 'Today, everybody can play,' " Hrycenko said. "We have to develop criteria to evaluate."

The NJSIAA will allow homeschooled students to participate in district athletic programs provided that they meet nine criteria, mostly having to do with a student's academic eligibility to play. The local school board must also approve participation, and the building principal from where the sports program originates must also be notified.

Parents of homeschooled students who want to participate in sports must also demonstrate their child's "academic equivalency" to others in the same age and grade level, according to Brick school board member Leonard Cuppari, who had NJSIAA with him at a recent board meeting.

Developing the formula by which academic equivalency can be judged will most likely prove to be the most difficult task in the entire matter, Hrycenko said.

"It's easy to verify what's being done in the school," he said. "It's not easy to verify what's being done in home school."

Hrycenko said there is no official state curriculum, standardized tests or grading system that parents of homeschooled students must adhere to. In situations where a homeschooled student returns to public school, they are usually given a test by district officials and placed in an appropriate grade level, according to Brick Assistant Superintendent Patricia Lorusso.

"What method of testing, and what standard, do we have to give that information to the athletic director so he can make a decision?" asked Brick School Board President Sharon Kight at the board's Nov. 17 meeting, when the matter was discussed.

"That's the issue that everybody is trying to deal with right now, and the fact that the decision came out on Nov. 9 is what's creating the havoc," Hrycenko replied.

Board member Larry Reid said the board should do its part in approving students to play as soon as possible, so when administrators develop a method of approving students to play, they can begin participation as soon as they are confirmed to be eligible.

"My personal feeling is that, if the students are the number one top priority, we should approve that now and work out the details later," Reid said.

JNew March 07, 2012 at 12:42 AM
My son will be attending an all boys Catholic school in NJ that doesn't have a football team, an academically harder school than the public as well, we pay the same property taxes and tuition to boot...I want him to have the opportunity to play football, but also provide him with a stronger more disciplined academic curriculum than what our public school....I don't feel it's fair.
Mark Wendell March 07, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Sorry, but it is your choice to do that. If you want him to play football pick a school that has a team or go to a public school. Plenty of private schools have teams.
Veronica December 20, 2012 at 10:30 PM
You all have it wrong. Its not that the schools arent good enough. Its that the curriculum isnt correct. Kids are bored to death. This is why they lose interest. And the food...are you kidding me?? Our schools should have a garden outside so our children can get some kind of nourishment while they are not home. How about making that a class? Growing food then cooking it. Now thats an idea. Here is a question for you..what is your child's response when you ask them what they learned in school today? Most likely it will be "nothing". So why not educate children to the fullest and make it fun. And as far as sports go every child deserves to play as long as they qualify. If my son's grades are good enough he should play like everybody else.
Chris Piccioni April 30, 2013 at 12:49 AM
Wow... I am very disappointed with some of your thoughts on whether or not home-schooled children should be able to play sports. Those who live in the United States of America are required to pay taxes and therefore pay for public services just like everybody else... Come on people! I am 17 years old and a great student who maintains a 3.5 GPA as a junior though online education. I love sports and have attended public schools for much of my life. There are many pros and cons to both online and public schooling. I chose online schooling because I have had a difficult past in which I struggled with depression and anger. I also have ADHD and it makes it very difficult to focus and learn at the same pace as others around me. Online schooling is a great alternative to public schooling and I achieve. Yes it is accredited though Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC) for your information and I must meet and often times achieve better academic performance than public school standards. I love football and I really appreciate sports as it allows me to be a better person, take part in a healthy activity, most importantly be part of (team). (That is why I play sports...) I have played sports while achieving in an online school and I have learned to be a better person and to lead a much healthier life... In my opinion let every child play.
Chris Piccioni April 30, 2013 at 12:51 AM
Wow... I am very disappointed with some of your thoughts on whether or not home-schooled children should be able to play sports. Those who live in the United States of America are required to pay taxes and therefore pay for public services just like everybody else... Come on people! I am 17 years old and a great student who maintains a 3.5 GPA as a junior though online education. I love sports and have attended public schools for much of my life. There are many pros and cons to both online and public schooling. I chose online schooling because I have had a difficult past in which I struggled with depression and anger. I also have ADHD and it makes it very difficult to focus and learn at the same pace as others around me. Online schooling is a great alternative to public schooling and I achieve. Yes it is accredited though Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC) for your information and I must meet and often times achieve better academic performance than public school standards. I love football and I really appreciate sports as it allows me to be a better person, take part in a healthy activity, most importantly be part of (team). (That is why I play sports...) I have played sports while achieving in an online school and I have learned to be a better person and to lead a much healthier life... In my opinion let every child play.

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