Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Says Home-Schooled Children Can Participate in School District Extracurricular Activities

Governor Includes Letter to the Legislature with Signature

Nov 10, 2005, 00:00 ET from Pennsylvania Office of the Governor

    HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Governor Edward G.
 Rendell today signed Senate Bill 361, sponsored by Sen. Bob Regola
 (R-Westmoreland), into law to help the state's 25,000 children who are taught
 at home participate in extracurricular activities in their local school
     "While I have long been an advocate of public education and the need to
 ensure a world-class public education system in our state, I think the
 commitment to education demonstrated by homeschool parents has too long been
 undervalued," said Governor Rendell in his signing letter to the legislature.
     "As Senate Bill 361 worked its way through the Legislature, I asked my
 staff to review such critical questions as the financial implications of the
 bill, whether it imposes any new financial burdens and whether such burdens
 could be met with current resources.  I also asked that we consider the
 appropriateness of state legislation given the local control structure of
 Pennsylvania's school system.  This thorough review process gave me an
 opportunity to understand the personal circumstances and the goals of
 homeschool parents and their children.
     "I read of Barry Clay's desire for his children to participate with their
 friends in extracurricular activities in the Carlisle Area School District, of
 Carol Loys' hope that her children could do the same with their friends in the
 West Shore School District, and of Beverly Wiezorek's efforts to convince the
 Pittsburgh School District to let her son, Wesley, play football.  These were
 just a few examples that illustrated the pleas of parents, asking that their
 children be able to enjoy the benefit of extra-curricular sports, the
 opportunity to compete for college sports scholarships and the ability to
 participate in and contribute to their communities.
     "I found it disheartening that 221 of our school districts do not permit
 homeschool children to engage in school sports, plays, clubs or other programs
 that promote good social values, integrate our communities and clearly
 contribute to the positive social development of our children.  I agree with
 these dedicated parents that they have every right to be frustrated.  As any
 good parent would, they are looking out for the interests of their children.
 And not only are they involved in their child's education, they share in their
 local school's cost by paying property taxes.  It seems disingenuous to
 suggest that permitting these students to take part in school-based extra
 curricular activities would be unjust or a burden on public school budgets
 since their parents are paying property taxes.
     "It's clear that parents who homeschool their children do not make this
 decision lightly.  Some do so because they want their child's education to be
 integrated with their faith and do not have access to a private school that
 reflects their religious beliefs.  Others choose homeschooling in an effort to
 offer more challenging coursework to children who have advanced beyond the
 available curricula offered locally.  Others may have a child with special
 needs and opt for homeschooling as a way to provide individualized attention
 that may be unavailable or impractical for their school district.  These
 parents make tough choices, rearranging their lives entirely around the needs
 of their children.  These parents deserve our respect and their children are
 entitled to be included in the activities of their school districts."
     Senate Bill 361 amends the Public School Code of 1949.  As of Jan. 1,
 2006, a school district of residence must permit a child enrolled in a home
 education program to participate in any extracurricular activities provided by
 that local district.  The child must meet both eligibility and the activities'
 try-out requirements.  The child will also have to comply with the rules of
 the club or organization he or she chooses to join.
     Interscholastic athletics and activities, which occur between schools
 within the district or between schools outside of the district, are also
 included this amendment.  If the activity requires a physical exam or medical
 test, the district must post the information on their web site and circulate
 it in an area publication.
     The bill passed the Senate 34-16 and the House, with amendments, 197-02.
 The Senate concurred, with additional amendments, 33-17.  The House agreed
 195-3.  The bill is effective immediately.
     The Rendell Administration is committed to creating a first-rate public
 education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing
 economic investment to support our communities and businesses.  To find out
 more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly
 newsletter, visit his Web site at:
      CONTACT:  Brandi Hunter-Davenport, Pennsylvania Office of the Governor,

SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor