Sullivan County

Homeschool kids to participate in public school sports

Some homeschoolers allowed in public school sports

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - Athletic events play an important part in the high school experience for some kids. Getting the chance to have teammates and competitors are two reasons why sports are so attractive to some kids.

One change is on the way for some kids in Tennessee that will give them the opportunity to experience some healthy competition.

Steven Warhurst has seven children and they are all homeschooled. A new change in state law makes him happy homeschool children will get the chance to participate in public school sports. "Homeschoolers are forced to pay for public schools but then not use them," adds Warhurst.

Warhurst believes the change was needed because their tax dollars go to fund the schools. "They're paying for a service. They're choosing not to use it but I think they have a right to use any part of it they desire to use," says Warhurst.

We learned that is about to become reality this spring -- Tennessee lawmakers made changes to the law to require public schools to allow homeschoolers to try out for athletic teams. Any homeschool child who wants to participate in sports has to come by the school board office and pick up a form to see if they qualify. "You really have to pick up those forms and notify us about your intent to participate by August 1," says Sullivan County Director of Schools Jubal Yennie.

One of the concerns public school parents have the school system will not receive funding for some sports homeschool children participate in; Yennie says that isn't true. "The money we put into those programs is pretty much coaching salaries and those don't change with 30 kids or 35. It just doesn't change. It's not a really good argument," adds Yennie.

The kids who want to participate will have to go to the schools they are zoned for just like any child who uses the public school system. "Once they've declared that they've established eligibility so they can't say, 'Well I'm going to go over here now, I'm going somewhere else,'" says Yennie.

Warhust says while his children will not be participating in sports through the school system he's happy it's finally an option for those who want to use it.

We reached out to parents in the public school system and received mixed emotions some feel like the homeschooled students deserve a chance to play sports, others think because they don't attend the schools, they shouldn't be allowed to.

All of the changes go into effect July 1 and all forms have to be completed by August 1.

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