A new state law in Wisconsin allowing homeschoolers to play on the sports teams of local public schools is confusing for the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletics Association, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.
The law was part of the budget signed by Gov Scott Walker, a Republican with presidential aspirations. Mr Walker line-item vetoed the portion of the law that would have required the WIAA to compel school districts to allow local home-schooled students to participate on sports teams, but the portion of the law allowing participation is in force.
The law is named after Tim Tebow, a homeschooled quarterback who was drafted into the NFL a few years back. Other states either allow access or are considering similar provisions, like Texas. But in Wisconsin, there’s some concern over the eligibility of homeschooled athletes.
Normally, students who participate in WIAA-sanctioned sports must carry a full academic load, meet age requirements, and have clean discipline records. But the eligibility of homeschooled students will be certified by their homeschool unit—most likely their parents—and school districts won’t be allowed to question the authenticity of that certification. They’ll just have to take the student-athlete’s parents at their word.
“We’re trying to figure out what the best advice is for our member schools so there’s not a conflict between WIAA rules and state law,” the Journal-Sentinel quoted Wade Labecki, deputy director for the WIAA, as saying.
The governor’s office says the law’s clear enough. “The law explicitly states that [homeschool units] may not submit inaccurate information” to the school board, the paper quoted Laurel Patrick, a spokeswoman for Gov Walker’s office, as saying in an email.
In Maryland, private schools that allow homeschooled athletes to participate may play public schools in interscholastic competition, but public schools aren’t specifically required to provide opportunities for homeschooled athletes in any way. In Illinois, homeschooled athletes are allowed to participate on public school sports teams, but they must be partially enrolled as students at the high school and meet eligibility requirements for any team on which they play.