Bill would require schools to allow homeschooled students to join extracurriculars
Tue, 04/27/2021 - 2:53pm admin
LIANNA KOWALKE, MISSOURI NEWS NETWORK
Lawmakers largely agreed upon the idea of requiring public schools to allow homeschooled students to participate in extracurriculars during a debate Tuesday.
The division occurred with the part of the proposal that would take away a district's core state funding if it failed to do so.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Josh Hurlbert, R-Smithville, requires schools to give homeschooled students the opportunity to try out or apply to join extracurricular activities, including sports, theater and academic clubs. The bill also specifies that schools can only require a homeschooled student to enroll in one class necessary or closely related to the extracurricular for eligibility in the activity.
If schools fail to follow these measures, they could lose their Foundation Formula payment from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
"If you don't have teeth within the legislation to require enforcement, you don't have a bill," Hurlbert said.
But many lawmakers said they felt this measure to be extreme, even potentially unconstitutional.
"We're unique in our constitution in terms of the protection that we give to a free and public education," Rep. Donna Baringer, D-St. Louis, said.
The current Missouri State High School Activities Association guidelines allow schools to require a homeschooled student to take up to two classes related to the extracurricular activity in order to participate. However, Hurlbert said some schools are exceeding these guidelines, necessitating this legislation.
"Should homeschool kiddos be able to participate in school activities? Absolutely, but not with this penalty provision," said Baringer.
Another representative questioned whether any other enforcement measures had been considered when the bill was still in committee.
"Did you give any thought to something else besides taking away all of the core funding?" Rep. Barbara Phifer, D-St. Louis, asked.
Hurlbert reiterated several times that this penalty was the language that was negotiated with the Senate, without specifically addressing the question.
Despite the disagreement, the bill, along with its amendment, was given initial approval by the House on April 19.