Sussex-Wantage BOE turns down sports-waiver request

| 31 Dec 2013 | 01:29

    A homeschooled student will not be allowed to play basketball for the Sussex-Wantage Regional School District after the Board of Education denied a waiver request Dec. 18 by his mother, which would allow him to play.

    During the public comments portion of the meeting, Christina Dragon, asked the board to waive the homeschooling policy regarding her seventh-grade son so he could continue to participate on the basketball team.

    She said he played on the basketball team last year, and after making the team this winter and practicing with them for two weeks, he was suddenly removed Nov. 2 due to a policy change.

    She said she was told the board had voted last spring to discontinue allowing home- and charter-schooled students to participate in district sports and programs.

    She also said that state Sen. Steven Oroho, has cosponsored a bill to allow access for home- and charter-schooled students to participate in district sports.

    Dragon said her son was one of the 20 whomade the team. She said she learned the Wednesday before Thanksgiving that she was called and told he could no longer play basketball.

    She said she has paid taxes to the district for 14 years and her son is not using any other services.

    The waiver was declined by one vote. School board Thomas Card broke the tie with a no vote, denying her son access to the program.

    Card said when a decision is made as to where and how the child will be education, it should be looked at as a package. It is not a situation where a student can choose to participate in one part of the program and not the other.

    “Life is full of choices and decisions, and this is one of them,” Card said. “The policy is not meant to slight or punish homeschooled or charter-schooled students. The extracurricular activities offered by the districts are part of the program offered to students in the district.”

    Status of law change
    The New Jersey Senate Education Committee voted unanimously in favor of Oroho’s bill to require school districts to allow charter-school students, county vocational-school students and students receiving equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school to participate in interscholastic sports programs in the resident’s district.

    The assembly version of the bill also passed the Education Committee on Nov. 19, 2012.

    Students would have to follow the same requirements as others: showing they are receiving academically equivalent instruction, and that they are academically qualified.