HB131 with SB612, the“Tebow” bills would prohibit Virginia public schools from becoming members of VHSL (or any similar organization) if homeschooled students with the listed qualifications are not eligible to participate in the programs it governs, which include athletics and other competitive activities, such as debate. In other words, if VHSL did not change its eligibility rules to allow homeschooled students to participate, then no Virginia public school could be a VHSL member. But school boards would have the option to restrict homeschool eligibility at the local level due to language in the bills that says that homeschool eligibility “shall be subject to all policies governing such participation that the local school board may establish.”
The bills specifically states that homeschool eligibility would be subject to the policy of each local school board – there would be no mandate on public schools. This means that, if the bill becomes law, homeschoolers would need to work with their local school boards to create local access policies. In that event, VaHomeschoolers will offer tips and talking points to assist homeschoolers who want to take that step. Qualified students would only be eligible at the public school in their residential attendance zone (no “team shopping”). They would have to be bona fide homeschoolers, in compliance with Virginia’s home instruction statute for at least two full, consecutive school years, including the two years immediately prior to seeking participation (“dropouts” would not qualify). Homeschoolers would also have to provide proof of two full years of satisfactory academic progress as required by the home instruction statute. Other eligibility rules required by the Virginia High School League (VHSL) would also apply.
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