Home-schoolers could be allowed to participate as unattached competitors in individual sports available to public schools, such as track and field, golf, tennis or bowling.

University of Hawaii Student Stories project badgeHouse Bill 811, which cleared the House March 4 and moved to the Senate, would not allow home-schooled athletes to attend practice with organizations but would apply specifically to competitions, if the student maintains a minimum grade point average and the parents pay the competition entrance fees that schools usually would.

“Our homeschool network for athletes, especially, is very small here on Oahu, so it’s not something that we could create within just the homeschool network,” said Kara MacPherson, a former teacher and current home schooling mother of four children, whose military family frequently moves.

Macpherson, who testified on Feb. 25, has a daughter who is a springboard diver with few opportunities to compete.

“Many other states have a system already in place for homeschoolers to be able to participate,” Macpherson told lawmakers during a hearing on the measure. “We want to be treated the same as a school that would want to participate in a sport.”

Campbell HS girls track members set up hurdle gear at the football field/track.
House Bill 811 would allow home-schooled students to compete in certain sports, like track and field. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2018

Michael Golojuch Jr. testified in strong opposition of HB 811 on behalf of the Stonewall Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

“By bringing in a home-school student you’re now then taking away from resources from those students that are going to that school,” Golojuch said in last month’s hearing. “There are other avenues that are not taking away from our public school students where those resources are set forth by the budgets.”

Golojuch also quoted one of the high school students who had reached out to him regarding the bill prior to the hearing.

“One of them put it very succinctly, ‘So our public schools aren’t good enough for them to come learn at, but they’re good enough to come play sports at,’” Golojuch said.

Hawaii is one of 20 states that bar homeschooled students from participating in interscholastic activities, according to data compiled by the Coalition for Responsible Home Education.

If HB 811 passes, home-schooled students could compete as individuals alongside peers in public schools through their district. Transcripts created for them by their at-home instructors would be submitted to the athletic association for grade monitoring.

The costs parents would pay to allow their home-schooler to participate usually depends on the size of the school, Macpherson said in an interview.

Even if the bill passes, the paperwork to register a home-schooler to compete is usually long and tedious, Macpherson said.

“This isn’t something that is the easy way out,” Macpherson said. “It’s not something that families might consider as a backdoor to be able to compete.” She added, “We just want to be able to give the kids a chance … we don’t want to push anybody out.”

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