Bill making more students eligible for extracurricular activities moves forward

Published January 24, 2008 12:28 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Posted: 12:25 PM- A Senate committee this morning passed http://www.le.state.ut.us/search.jsp?Sess=2008GS&String=SB36&Submit=Find" Target="_BLANK">SB36, a bill that would force public schools to allow charter and online school students to participate in extracurricular activities not offered at their schools.

But the Senate Education Committee delayed action on a related bill, http://www.le.state.ut.us/search.jsp?Sess=2008GS&String=SB37&Submit=Find" Target="_BLANK">SB37, which would allow private and home-schooled students to also participate in public school sports and extracurricular activities.

Several speakers worried that students who play sports might transfer to home schooling to avoid becoming academically ineligible at their public schools.

The first bill, SB36, concerning online and charter school students, now advances to the Senate floor. The committee will return later to discussions of SB37, concerning home schooling, in hopes of making some changes.

Mark Van Wagoner, attorney for the Utah High School Activities Association, said his group already has a rule allowing charter school students to participate in public school sports, but not all schools follow it. If SB36 becomes law, schools would have to allow them to participate, assuming they meet certain residency conditions. Schools also would likely receive additional money for allowing charter and online school students to participate.

Van Wagoner, however, said his group opposes SB37. In the case of home schoolers, parents would determine whether students make enough academic progress to participate in sports.

"If they are cheating how do we catch them?" Van Wagoner asked.

Several legislators bristled at the idea that parents would lie about their children's grades so they could play sports.

"Somehow, every parent is suspect and a closet perjurer ready to abandon their honor so their child can participate in extracurricular activities," said Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Lehi, who sponsored both bills. "Research has been done that shows that just doesn't happen."

Associate State Schools Superintendent Larry Shumway said the Utah State Board of Education opposes SB36 and has major concerns about SB37.

Stan Rasmussen with the conservative Sutherland Institute, spoke in support of the home schoolers' bill. Julie Adamic, chairwoman of the Utah Charter School Board, spoke in support of the bill for charter and online school students. Steve Peterson with Utah School Board and Utah Superintendents Association spoke against SB36.

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