A new policy approved by the Arkansas State Legislature will allow home-schooled students in the Arkadelphia Public School District to be eligible to participate in extracurricular activities.
During the March meeting of the Arkadelphia Board of Education, a proposed policy was introduced by Superintendent Donnie Whitten that would allow home-schooled students actively enrolled by the Arkansas Department of Education to participate in extracurricular activities sanctioned by the Arkansas Activities Association and sponsored by the Arkadelphia School District.
"At the time of the first meeting [in March], the legislature was considering making it a law," explained Sean Ruggles, APSD's director of communications.
According to Ruggles, the Arkadelphia School District was preparing to move forward with a policy regardless as to the legislature's decision. The measure needed two readings in order to be effective.
"After the first reading the state made it a law, so it didn't need a second reading," Ruggles said.
Because legislatures have approved a policy of their own, the proposed policy by the district is now void.
According to Ruggles, the standards set by the state's policy are lower than those the district had proposed for its policy. "Their law makes it easier," explained Ruggles.
According to the state's policy, a home-schooled student shall not participate in interscholastic activities at a public school other than the student's resident school. The resident school district is defined as the school district in which the home-schooled student's parent resides.
The policy also states that a resident school district may permit a home-schooled student to participate in an interscholastic activity if the home-schooled student reports to the resident school district within the first 11 days of the fall or spring semester of the resident school district.
In addition, the home-schooled student or his or her parent must advise the principal of the resident school in writing of the student's request to participate in the interscholastic activity before the signup, tryout or participation deadlines established for students enrolled in the resident school.
The principal of the resident school shall permit a home-schooled student to pursue participation in an interscholastic activity of the resident school if the student or the student's parent provides to the principal a notice of the student's desire to pursue participation before the signup, tryout or participation deadlines established for students enrolled in the resident school.
A minimum score on a test approved by the State Board of Education is also required.
“Law will be our policy,” said Whitten.
The new policy will be implemented this fall.