‘Tim Tebow’ home school sports bill advances in General Assembly

Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington.
Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington. File photo

A bill that would let home school students participate in sports or other interscholastic extracurricular activities at public schools was approved last week by the state House of Representatives.

House Bill 58, sponsored by Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, would allow home school students equal access to activities at the school where they would have been assigned by a school district. The vote was 55-34.

The bill goes to the Senate Education Committee and, if approved there, to the full Senate.

Parents “just want their children to have an opportunity,” said Lee. Students would have to try out for teams, he said.

Under the bill, students participating would have to pay any fee that public school students pay. They would have to adhere to the same standards of behavior and performance as any other participant. They would have the same academic standards as other participants, with teachers of the home school students having to show that students were progressing toward high school graduation and passing their classes.

Lee’s fellow lawmakers in the House asked him about how credible that documentation would be with parents providing the information.

The student would have to comply with the same physical examination, immunization, insurance, age, and eligibility requirements as other students. Transportation of a home school student to the public school activity would be the responsibility of the parent. But the student could use the same transportation as other students if additional expenses are not incurred by the district.

Lee had filed similar legislation in past 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. Lee said at least 36 other states have some form of the legislation.

On the House floor, Rep. David Hale, R-Wellington, asked Lee what was the position of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.

Lee said that the KHSAA has always been opposed.

KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett told the House Education Committee when that panel approved the bill that he thought there was a path for home school students to participate in public school sports in Kentucky. But he said it wasn’t in the current legislation.

Other states, Tackett said, require that the students have some academic connection to the school during the school day, even if they only attend classes at the public school for one hour or two.

Tackett said he was willing to continue to work with lawmakers on the issue.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears