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October 17, 2006

Homeschooler Denied Eligibility to Participate in Public School Sports

A Home School Legal Defense Association member family contacted us after the state athletics association ruled their son was ineligible to participate with their local public school’s soccer team. We intervened, and ultimately persuaded the association to reverse their ruling.

While the family had the public school’s support, the athletics association initially would not accept the student because he was enrolled in the A Beka Academy online program.

The Florida Athletics Association allows homeschoolers to participate on public school teams so long as the student is not enrolled in any program that is registered as a private school with the Florida Department of Education.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Chris Klicka drafted a letter to the athletics association in defense of the family. Klicka stated that the family had followed the Florida homeschool law by sending in their notice of intent and evaluations at the end of the year. He explained that the family uses the A Beka program as their curriculum and accountability for recordkeeping, but that the family is homeschooling. Klicka explained that the law allows participation by homeschoolers in public school sports, and that the athletics association could not deny the homeschool student access. The letter included copies of the family’s notice of intent and evaluation reports.

The day the letter was sent, the athletics association responded asking what school the homeschooled student was looking to participate in. Only a few days later the athletics association faxed a letter to the Bay District school stating that the homeschooled student could participate on the team!

After receiving Klicka’s letter, the association researched the matter, contacted A Beka (only to find out that A Beka is not registered with the Florida Department of Education, but other state and regional accreditation agencies), and quickly concluded that the homeschooled student was eligible.

We believe the Bay District schools area’s soccer team will be that much better this year due to the influence of one of our very own homeschooled students.