Bill Would Give Homeschool Athletes More Opportunities
COLUMBIA - Homeschool students in Missouri are currently unable to participate in various athletic activities at public schools. But a new bill recently introduced to the House of Representatives would change that.
House Bill 1347 would require all public schools witin the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) to allow homeschool students to participate in athletic activities.
Rep. Elijah Haahr (R- Springfield) sponsored the bill. He was homeschooled as a child, and said every legislator involved with writing the bill has some degree of involvement within the homeschool community.
"I've talked to some people in the homeschooled community, and it was an issue that was important to them and important to me," Haahr said. "27 other states allow homeschool students to compete for the public school whose district they reside within- I think it's time for Missouri to join the rest of the country."
Until the bill becomes a law, MSHSAA will not change their bylaws to accommodate homeschooled student-athletes. MSHSAA representative Jason West said it's always been done it this way, and the organization won't change unless state lawmakers make it.
West said there are alternatives in place for homeschool families. "Mo-Vip is one program that some can choose where you're fulfilling part of the academic requirement to be a bona fide student, but you're still taking maybe only two classes at the school of choice," he said.
Mark Jones is an assistant coach for the Central Missouri Homeschool Saints, a high school baseball team comprised entirely of homeschooled athletes. He doesn't agree with MSHSAA's suggested alternatives.
"Whether we're forced to sit in a public school classroom, or sit behind a computer for the curriculum from the public school, that's sort of counter to the whole idea of the homeschool parent controlling the education of their students," he said.
If implemented, the bill would go into effect this August.