Board to decide on homeschool sports participation

News

MAHOMET, Ill. (WCIA) — School board members with Mahomet-Seymour schools are set to vote tonight on a hotly-debated proposal to allow homeschool students on district sports teams. 

It’s been more than a month since member Colleen Shultz initially proposed changing the district’s current policy, which bars such students from participating. (It’s not necessarily an anomaly: other area schools also don’t allow homeschool students to play district sports, including Champaign’s Unit 4, Monticello, and Gibson-City-Melvin-Sibley, among others.)

And while the policy change is on tonight’s agenda for school board members to ultimately decide on, it doesn’t come with a recommendation from superintendent Lindsey Hall. Hall’s note on the action item says she doesn’t endorse the proposal.

If the policy were approved, certain district officials would be tasked with vetting the curriculum that homeschool families are using: one of the Illinois High School Association requirements of such students aiming to play sports is that their curriculum must receive the district’s stamp of approval. 

At a policy meeting in October, in which a draft of Shultz’s policy was first presented, some board members wondered if adding that responsibility to a district employee would be burdensome. 

Shultz had noted that many homeschool families within district limits use the same materials — Classical Conversations, a Christian-based homeschool curriculum —  meaning that if it were vetted once, it could apply to multiple, interested families.  

At that same meeting, board member Meghan Hennesy said the topic has come up multiple times in her seven years of living within district limits.

“I think (this comes) as a result of hearing from people in our community who are taxpayers who are saying, ‘We would really like you to look into this,’ so I think what we’re doing is listening to the public and saying we’ll explore that.” 

Shultz had also noted that families who live within the district but choose to homeschool are taxpayers just like their non-homeschooling counterparts. 

Board members will meet tonight in the conference room at Middletown Prairie.

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