Push being made for home-schooled students to play

Staff Report

One West Virginia mother who home schools her child wants her child to be able to play sports at the local public schools.

“My goal is to provide private school and home schooled students in West Virginia the opportunity to participate in public school athletics,” said Heather Clawges in an email to the Coal Valley News. “Currently, the West Virginia Secondary Schools Association prohibits these students from participation in any public school sports programs.”

Clawges said her goal is to promote awareness, gather signatures on this petition, and ultimately request a bill introduction in the next legislative session. A similar bill has been proposed in the state House of Delegates for the last three years, but has not progressed.

“At least 30 other states currently have laws in place providing opportunities for similar student participation,” according to Clawges. “It is most commonly referred to as a ‘Tim Tebow’ bill. This bill does not require public schools to give homeschooled or private schooled students a spot on the team, but gives them a chance to try out. In the case of private school children, they would only be given this opportunity when their attended school does not provide such a program.”

Clawges said West Virginia is a rural state with limited opportunities for children, and a staggering rate of childhood obesity.

“Participation in athletic programs may only be a single activity for a child, but may change a child’s lifestyle forever,” she said. “There are thousands of homeschooled and private school children each year that could be positively influenced by this policy change. I have a personal interest in this project. My son, Jacob loves to play soccer, but his small school does not have a team. Our rural community does not provide much competitive opportunities now that he is in middle school.”

Clawges said she has an online petition which provides more details at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/wv-tim-tebow-bill

“This is a secure and private site, requiring only an e-mail address to sign and takes less than one minute,” she said. “This petition has already accrued 1,000 signatures in the eight weeks of being online.”

Staff Report

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