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Few home schoolers qualify to try out for local teams

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Phil Barnes, Attendance Supervisor with Wilson County Schools said Thursday that only 51 home school students are presently registered with the school system and meet those requirements.

“There are about 500 students that we are aware of in church-related home school programs,” Barnes said. “Who knows, there might be twice as many. They don’t register with us.”

Watertown High principal Jeff Luttrell is a member of the TSSAA Legislative Council and served on the home school study committee.

“We’ve been working under the assumption that perhaps 10 to 15 percent of the state’s home school students will be able to meet the standards that were adopted Wednesday,” Luttrell said. He indicated the TSSAA would continue to monitor the situation in order to gauge the impact of the measure.

“I don’t think it will have that much of an impact,” said Lebanon High athletic director and head football coach Bobby Brown. “I believe they (the TSSAA Legislative Council) have made it extremely difficult for them to be eligible. I haven’t had any calls in that regard.”

Mike Duncan, athletic director at Mt. Juliet High echoed Brown’s sentiments. “We have not had any requests to participate in athletics at MJHS from home-schooled students. We will comply with the rules set by the TSSAA,” Duncan said.

Shawn O’Conner is the athletic director at McClain Christian Academy in Lebanon — a non-TSSAA school. “With the TSSAA passing the ‘Tim Tebow Rule’ it may impact some of the Nashville-based schools in our conference, however I do not foresee it impacting the athletics program at McClain Christian Academy,” O’Conner said.

“Our Middle Tennessee Athletic Conference by-laws mandate that any home-schooled student must be enrolled in the school’s ‘Umbrella Program’ or ‘Off-Site Program’. The home-schooled students that compete in our athletic program are all enrollees of our Off-Site Program.

“During the 2010 season I had four home-schooled athletes on the field. I think our home-schooled families will choose to keep their children in the current athletic program because our school mission to provide Christian based academics fits the core beliefs of the home-school children that participated.”

Here’s the proposal that was adopted Wednesday by the TSSAA:A home schooled student wishing to participate in extracurricular athletics at a member school shall be eligible if the following qualifications are met: 1. The student shall be enrolled in a home school study program in compliance with Section 49-6-3050(b)(1) and be registered with the local director of schools (or head of school, if a private school) by August 15 of the current school year. 2. The participating student must have a legal residence within the school district where he/she is registered, if registering with a public school. If registering with a private school, the student must have a legal residence within 20 miles of the private school and meet all tuition and financial aid requirements. 3. By August 15 of the school year, the parent or guardian must make application to the principal of the member school in which the home school athlete wishes to participate. 4. The home school athlete shall meet the same academic standards required of a member school student athlete to participate in the athletic program; however, the Director of Schools for public schools (or the head of school for private schools) in which a home school athlete wishes to participate shall work with the parent or guardian to ensure that the home school athlete is academically eligible. If a home school student’s course of study does not include five (5) academic subjects, then the Director of Schools (or head of school, if a private school) and the parent shall develop an alternative measure of academic progress and submit the same to the TSSAA for approval. Proof of academic eligibility shall be provided by the member school to the TSSAA each semester. 5. The home school student must provide proof of basic medical insurance coverage and both independently secured catastrophic insurance coverage and liability insurance coverage which names the TSSAA as an insured party in the event the school’s insurance provider does not extend coverage to students enrolled in home school programs. The insurance must be in place before the home school student practices or participates. 6. The Local Education Association may impose a participation fee for each athletic sport in which a home school athlete wishes to participate. Such participation fee shall not exceed three hundred dollars annually for each sport and shall be paid in full prior to the first regular season contest. A home school student participating at a private school shall be subject to full tuition and financial aid rules. 7. The home school student must meet all other TSSAA eligibility requirements. 8. All eligibility issues may be appealed in accordance with the Bylaws of the TSSAA. 9. The home school athlete must adhere to the same standards of behavior, responsibility, performance, and code of conduct as other participants of the team. 10. This rule gives a home school athlete the opportunity to try out for a member school’s athletic team. Ultimate decisions on the roster are left to the member schools and are not governed by the TSSAA. No student is guaranteed participation, but only the opportunity to try out for a position on the team, subject to the other provisions of this rule. Transfer: 1. Eligibility will be established at the first member school the home school athlete decides to participate. After participation at the first member school, any changes within member schools shall be governed by the transfer rule. 2. Any student who withdraws from a regular school program, which for the purpose of this policy is defined as a member school, to enroll in a home school education program and who is ineligible at the time of withdrawal from the regular school program due to his/her failure to meet academic or behavioral eligibility standards shall be ineligible to compete in interscholastic athletic competition as a home education athlete until such time as he/she has satisfied this home school bylaw as well as all other eligibility bylaws of TSSAA

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