Home Schooled Students to Play KY High School Sports Soon?

A Kentucky lawmaker proposes bill allowing homeschooled students to play on public high school teams.

Five years ago, the so-called "Tebow Rule" allowing home schooled students to play on public high school teams, failed in the general assembly. But another effort is underway in Frankfort to give those kids the opportunity.

Swimming is about technique, fitness, and speed.

"I like that it challenges you," says Gabrielle Velez. It's a challenge she faces head on nearly every morning.

"We like to see each other succeed," she says.

It's not the only challenge she likes.

"I would do high school swimming, I think track and field would be fun, because I've always ran," says Velez.

But for now, she can't face those challenges. Gabrielle is home schooled, unable to participate in public high school athletics.

"It would be nice if they did have the option that they could do high school athletics," says Kristi Velez, Gabrielle's mother.

That option could become a reality soon. Another effort at allowing home schooled students to play on public school teams has started again in the general assembly. The bill would allow them to play for the school in the district where they live.

"I think for those kids, that would be geared toward a team sport, it gives some options out there," says Kristi. "All of a sudden, the years they have had to give up, thinking 'Well, I can't pursue athletics.' Maybe they can."

But Kentucky High School Athletic Association officials disagree.  Commissioner Julian Tackett says one reason is students in state public schools have different standards from home schooled students.

"You are going to have some kids out there who are held to the standards of a local school teacher and a local principal having to make grades. The other kid needs to bring a note from home saying 'Johnny's eligible.' There's a competitive imbalance there," he says.

But some like gabrielle want the option to dive in and compete.

"I think it'd be cool for high school swimming to be an option for home schoolers because scouts go to a lot of high school meets for colleges and that would be a good way to get your name out there and to see what your options are for colleges," says Gabrielle.

More than half the states, including Indiana and Illinois, allow home school students to participate on athletic teams in their home district.

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