BRICK – The Board of Education said they would have an answer by the November meeting for homeschooling parents who had asked why their children were no longer allowed to participate in school sports, but now officials said they will have a full answer in December.
Parents Rachel Pabon and Ben Szuba questioned the change in policy during the Oct. 12 meeting.
Acting Superintendent Dennis Filippone said that homeschooled students would be allowed to participate in winter sports and that the board would be putting together a policy that meets the needs of the students, parents and school district, hopefully by the December Board of Education meeting.
“But until that time, homeschooled students will be allowed to participate in winter athletics,” he said.
A committee had met the day before the November meeting, and Filippone said he is “very, very confident” that a policy allowing homeschooled students to participate in sports would be on the December agenda for the first reading.
The policy would then be approved at the second reading during January Board of Education meeting and go into effect for spring athletics, Filippone said.
“We will follow the NJSIAA (New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association) guidelines for academic eligibility,” Filippone said.
Those guidelines include proof that the student lives in the district; that their homeschooled curriculum aligns with the district’s curriculum; that the student’s instruction would be
evaluated and approved by the school principal; that they have medical clearance; and more.
“We are working diligently to come up with a policy that really works. There are great ones out there. I don’t think it will be very difficult,” Filippone said.
Board President John Lamela and board member Melita Gagliardi had already met with Filippone and done their homework, so Filippone said he is confident the committee would come up with a policy with which everybody could be happy.
“We are pleased as a school district to be able to welcome in, for those activities, young people who can only add to what we feel is already a great environment for kids,” he said.
Former Board of Education member Larry Reid said that about five years ago there had been a policy in place that allowed a homeschooled student hockey player to participate in that sport.
“I thought we had put a procedure policy into effect at that time,” Reid said.
Filippone said there had been a policy in place but it was subsequently removed by a previous board. When the policy was removed, it reverts back to the superintendent, Filippone said.
After the October Board of Education meeting, Filippone said that the State Department of Education does not have a policy on allowing homeschooled children to participate in school activities and that it is up to the superintendent in each district. He said very few New Jersey school districts allow homeschooled students to participate in school athletics.
“I’m glad to see it back in,” said Reid.
“So are we,” Filippone said.
The next Board of Education meeting will be on Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. at Brick High School.