Westerville News & Public Opinion

Activities opened to home-schooled, private-school students

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Home-schooled and private-school students soon will be able to participate in extracurricular activities in the Westerville City School District, in compliance with a state law signed by Gov. John Kasich in June.

The Westerville Board of Education heard the first reading of a policy Sept. 9 that would bring the district into compliance with House Bill 59.

Currently, home-schooled students have been able to participate in Westerville school activities if they enroll in a minimum of two or a maximum of four Westerville schools courses, said Scott Reeves, district executive director of secondary academic affairs.

Under the new policy, home-schooled students would be able to participate in any extracurricular activity offered at the school they would attend if they were enrolled full-time in the district, without needing to enroll in any district courses.

Private-school students would be eligible to participate in any extracurricular activity offered at the public school they would attend if they were enrolled in the district, if that activity is not offered at the students' private school.

The students would be held to the same eligibility requirements, including academic requirements, and would have to pay the same fees as all students in the district, Reeves said.

The school board is scheduled to vote on the new policy Sept. 23.

The policy would go into effect immediately, bringing the district into compliance with the new law before it becomes effective at the end of this month, Reeves said.

Though home-schooled and private-school students would be able to enroll in activities this month, they likely would be left out of fall sports because the season is well under way, Reeves said.

"We would be well within our fall sports seasons, and that would be difficult implementation," he said.

The district's administration is trying to make it easy for home-schooled and private school students to see what activities will be available to them and to enroll in those activities.

The district administration has asked building principals to put together a list of activities available at their schools, Reeves said.

Those lists will be posted on the district's website, along with the policy and information on enrolling in activities, Reeves said.

The district already has had inquiries from parents interested in enrolling their students in extracurricular activities under the new law, Reeves said.

School board President Denise Pope praised the administration for taking an organized and careful approach to creating a policy to comply with the state law.

"One thing we didn't want to do is put our current athletic teams in any jeopardy from an eligibility standpoint," Pope said.

Reeves said the district had an easier time than some others with the policy because it already had a policy in place to allow home-schooled students to participate in extracurricular activities if they attended some classes.

"It would be a very similar process," Reeves said of the new policy.

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