A Lexington state lawmaker has pre-filed legislation for the 2017 General Assembly that would allow home-schooled students to play sports for their local public school district.
Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, has filed similar legislation for the past two years without success.
The proposed legislation is named for former University of Florida and NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who was home-schooled and was allowed to play for his local high school team after legislation was passed in Florida in 1996. The Florida legislation later became known as the Tim Tebow bill, and it has passed in more than 30 states, a news release from Lee said.
“It’s time for Kentucky to support equal access for home-school students,” Lee said. “It’s in the best interest of our state to help home-school students reach their full potential just like public school students. Tim Tebow is a great example of a successful partnership between home schools and public schools.”
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Under Lee’s proposal, home-schooled students would register with the local middle or high school in their district and would be subject to the same requirements as public school students to participate, including taking a physical and meeting academic requirements to be eligible. Rep. Lee’s bill also would require the parents of a home-schooled student to transport them to and from athletic events.
“In Kentucky, parents have the legal option to home-school their children, and they should also have the option for home-schooled children to participate in public school sports,” Lee said.
Nicholas Reed, Berea High School boys’ soccer coach, was quoted in Lee’s news release as saying he supported the bill.
“I learned very quickly that small schools face many obstacles, from inadequate funding for equipment to lack of interest in students to play sports,” Reed said. “I have recently discovered that there are a number of home-school students who have amazing talent as athletes that will never see their full potential as home-schooled high school students.”
On Tuesday, Kentucky High School Athletic Association Commissioner Julian Tackett said that the association’s board of control has historically opposed such bills on behalf of schools.
Under KHSAA rules, a participating student must be enrolled full-time, which means taking a minimum of four hours of instruction at a local high school or at a “feeder” school to the high school.
As for the current proposal, Tackett said Lee’s “passion for the subject is evident as well as his willingness to listen to feedback by the changes made in the current version from past versions.”
“We are hopeful that he recognizes the open door for revision and enhancement to ensure that there are not unintended consequences,” Tackett said of Lee. “We welcome not only the chance to sit and discuss the issues and technical wording but perhaps further share concerns about the lack of standards for home-school education” in Kentucky that concern the KHSAA-member schools.