Home School Athletics Bill Waiting for Governor's Signature - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Home School Athletics Bill Waiting for Governor's Signature

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by Emily Luxen

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Legislation that would allow home school students to participate in sports in public schools is one step closer to becoming a law, and supporters are cheering.

After getting approval 31-0 on the Senate floor, the House voted to support it 68-19 Monday night.  Now, it heads to Governor Bill Haslam's desk for a signature.

The bill would give home school students a chance to try out for public school athletic teams, if they meet necessary health, academic and conduct standards.  They may also have to pay any necessary fees associated with the programs.

Jennifer Gentry home schools her three kids in Madison. She said all are athletic, and it would be a great opportunity for them to be able to compete alongside kids at their zoned public school.

"We would definitely take advantage of the option," said Gentry. "To have more choices is always a good thing."

Rep. Jeremy Durham, a Republican from the 65th district, said he feels the bill has the support of the home school community, and the majority of his district. He said it provides a fair opportunity to home school families.

"Just because they choose not to put their child in school, does not mean they shouldn't get to use the other benefit of their taxpayer dollars," said Rep. Durham. "This gives them an opportunity to show what they can do in a structured setting."

However opponents, including the TSSAA or the Tennessee School Boards Association, argue home school students lose their right to participate when their parents pulled them out of their schools. They also feel the change will hurt school districts overall.

"This bill has been around a long time," said Rep. Joe Towns, a Democrat from Memphis. "Elected school boards across the state do not support this bill."

After receiving Governor Haslam's signature, the law would go into effect July 1.  The changes would apply beginning with the 2013-14 academic school year.

Email: eluxen@newschannel5.com
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