La Feria News

UIL amends policies to allow homeschoolers

The University Interscholastic League Legislative Council met Tuesday, June 15 to consider and approve various changes of policies and rules. One of the more notable amendments concerned the eligibility of non-enrolled students for athletic competitions.
UIL provides competitions in academics, athletics, and music between schools across the state of Texas. Public schools, charter schools and private schools can be members of UIL provided they are accredited by their respective accrediting bodies. According to UILTexas.org, the UIL is “the largest inter-school organization of its kind in the world.”
Since the UIL is the highest league of competition in Texas for high school athletes, many students and parents who choose homeschooling for education have sought participating in the UIL. People on both sides of this issue have been debating this for a long time.
NFL player and College football star Tim Tebow, was home-schooled before attending the University of Florida. Because of this and his fame, bills proposed in state legislatures across the country have been nicknamed the “Tim Tebow Bill.”
Last month the Texas Legislature considered and passed its own version of the Tim Tebow Bill. This is HB 547. This bill allows non-enrolled students to participate in extracurricular athletic activities as long as certain criteria are met.
· The school district that the student wishes to participate allows non-enrolled students in extracurricular activities.
· The student resides in the geographical zone assigned to the school for which he is seeking participation.
· The student is of the appropriate age and grade level for the athletic league.
· The student must have standardized testing to show academic proficiency.
The student must also meet any requirements of fees, insurance, transportation, physical condition, responsibilities, standards of behavior, and performance.
Please read the full text of the bill at capitol.texas.gov for full details.
The bill is also specific to mention that this law does not change the regulation of private or home schools nor seek to increase government oversight of those institutions. This was a major concern from home school families and groups.
Before HB 547, students that wished to participate in extracurricular activities had to be enrolled in the school for at least 4 hours per day. This of course, in effect, made the students enrolled and not homeschooled.
The UIL in the June 15th session amended policies to reflect the new regulations in HB 547. Thus paving the way for students who find non-public schooling best fits their educational needs, to also be able to compete in the premier league of athletic competition.
While the State of Texas and the UIL have now removed the oversight obstacles, the language is clear that each school district has a choice of whether to allow non-enrolled students or not. Which schools will take the steps to serve these athletes? Time will tell.

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