Students who don't attend traditional schools now have more opportunities to participate in sports and other school activities. The state's new budget law requires districts to accept resident kids for activities, even if they are home schooled or attend other schools that don't have sports teams, according to Ohio High School Athletic Association board member and Copley-Fairlawn Athletic Director Jim Borchik.
"There's big numbers out there," said Borhcik, who cited Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow as an example of a statewide online school system that has 12,000 students.
Don't assume that kids in alternative schools or those whose parents teach them at home have no interest in sports. The debate has been going on for years about what their elgibility should be. Borchik, who is also the athletic director in the Copley-Fairlawn School District, says there have been students who have been turned down for sports, such as swimming, because they were not enrolled in the district.
That's the big difference. Superintendents or other district officials have little choice:
“A student who is receiving home instruction…shall be afforded, by the superintendent of the school district in which the student is entitled to attend school…the opportunity to participate in any extracurricular activity offered at the district school to which the student otherwise would be assigned during that school year.”
Borchik says it is not safe to assume that because the law is new, home school kids have never played sports and wouldn't be interested now.
"A lot of these kids played Little League baseball or whatever community sports and they just kind of grow up with these kids and even though they're home schooled and don't go to school with them, they're still around them in the neighborhood and things like that," said Borchik.
Borchik says students who want to participate in an activity not offered in their home districts can apply to a neighboring district instead. The non-traditional students are still responsible for pay-to-participate or any other costs associated with the given activity.