Beginning earlier this week, home-schooled and private-school students in the Westerville City School District could begin joining district extracurricular activities.
The Westerville Board of Education approved a new policy allowing for the inclusion of home-schooled and private-school students in activities at its meeting Monday evening, Sept. 23. The policy brings the district into compliance with state law adopted this summer with House Bill 59, the state's biennial budget.
"This sets us up to be in compliance to the law, and more importantly, provide opportunities to members of our community who didn't have them before," said board member Kevin Hoffman.
The district began implementing the policy immediately, creating a webpage through which parents and students can find information on available activities, eligibility and the steps needed to participate in programs.
While home-schooled students have been able to participate in district activities in the past if they were enrolled in a minimum of two district courses, they now may participate in any activity offered at the schools they would attend if they were enrolled in the public-school system.
The policy also will allow private-school students to participate in any extracurricular activities at the Westerville schools they would attend, provided that those activities are not provided at their private schools.
Under the policy, home-schooled and private-school students are required to meet the same academic requirements as Westerville students to participate in extracurricular activities.
The district has prepared letters to be sent to home-schooled and private-school students residing within Westerville City School District boundaries to let them know of the new extracurricular opportunities, Reeves said.
District administrators worked with the Westerville Parent Council to hone the website and the process to make it easy for families whose students want to participate in Westerville programs, Reeves said.
"I think we are being very diligent," he said. "We worked very hard to make it parent- and family-friendly."
Under state law, the district was required to offer extracurricular activities to home-schooled and private-school students by the end of this month, well into the fall sports season.
"I'm kind of disappointed that we missed the fall season, but I'm excited that those kids can be geared up and ready for our winter activities," said board member Cindy Crowe.
Though the fall sports season is underway, Reeves said, the district will not rule out participation.
"That's a sport-by-sport, coach-by-coach decision," he said.
And, Reeves added, the students can take advantage of clubs and other nonathletic extracurricular activities immediately.