Starting with the 2013-14 school year, Arkansas home-schooled students in grades 7-12 will be allowed to participate in public school extracurricular activities under a new rule passed by the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) this week.
The rule doesn't guarantee a spot on a sports team for a home-schooled student; it simply offers him or her the chance to try out.
Any home-schooled students interested in pursuing this route must have their parents submit a written request to the district's superintendent by July 1 in a given year. The superintendent has 30 days to approve or deny the request.
For a home-schooled student to participate in extracurricular public school activities, he or she must take the English, math, science, and social studies SAT-10 Assessments prior to the first day of school, scoring average or higher on all of them.
Assuming the superintendent approves the request, the home-schooled student-athlete must enroll in at least one class per day at the public school where he or she will be playing. Home-schooled students can only participate in extracurricular activities in the district where their parents live.
"We've heard from a lot of home-school parents that they'll do whatever it takes to be able to participate," AAA Executive Director Lawrence Taylor said to TodaysTHV.com.
The AAA passed the rule by a vote of 155-82, after the AAA's board of directors unanimously recommended its passage. It needed at least 50 percent of the schools' votes to pass, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
A spring survey administered by the association found 85 percent of its member schools in favor of the new change, according to the AAA's meeting agenda.
"We think it will be good for them to be around other kids and learn the life skills that our kids are learning by participating in these activities," Taylor told TodaysTHV.com.
Arkansas isn't the only state to have considered making this switch in recent months. In November, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association approved rule changes that allow home-schooled student-athletes to participate in high school sports. South Carolina did the same back in June.
Earlier this year, however, a Virginia Senate committee voted down a similar bill.
Roughly half of all states allow home-schoolers to have some type of access to extracurricular activities or sports, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association.
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