Virginia lawmakers debate eligibility for school sports


Who should qualify to play school sports - homeschooled students? military children who move? pupils living on base? - was at the center of debate Thursday in the General Assembly.

Brianna Mikeska, a senior at First Colonial High School in Virginia Beach, made the trek to Richmond to testify early about the hurdles she had to overcome when the Virginia High School League, which governs public school sports and some extracurricular activities, told her last fall she would have to sit out.

The reason: The Navy had sent her family to Japan, but after several unhappy months there, her parents allowed her to return to Virginia Beach to finish high school.

The league ruled she would have to wait a year to rejoin the school's cheerleading squad - or participate in other sports or activities, such as debate - under a policy meant to prevent student-athletes from moving around to shop for the best teams or positions.

Mikeska's story made headlines and motivated several lawmakers to write letters on her behalf, said Del. Chris Stolle, a Virginia Beach Republican. Still, it took several months before the Virginia High School League found a loophole and reinstated her eligibility, he said.

Stolle's HB1497 would prohibit public schools from joining an interscholastic governing organization, such as the Virginia High School League, if it doesn't make students in Mikeska's situation immediately eligible for sports and activities. The high school league opposed the bill, which advanced to the House Education Committee.

Meanwhile, the Senate Education and Health Committee deferred a proposal from Sen. Steve Martin, a Chesterfield County Republican and committee chairman, to allow students living on military bases to join extracurricular activities at certain public schools.

SB1191 would specifically apply to students who reside in on-base housing that falls in one school district but who attend a public school in a nearby district, which is allowed under law.

Those students can't play sports under those circumstances, however, which the proposal seeks to remedy.

Homeschooled students also made their pitch Thursday for eligibility to play sports for their local schools, a request under consideration in both houses under so-called "Tim Tebow" legislation. The bills are nicknamed for the NFL quarterback who, as a Florida homeschooler, honed his skills in public school athletics.

Those measures - HB1442, SB792 and SB812 - would ban public schools from joining Virginia High School League-type organizations whose rules restrict homeschooled students from participating in their athletics and related activities.

Supporters of those proposals argued that including homeschoolers is a fairness issue because their families pay taxes that help support public education.

Opponents, including the sports league and the Virginia PTA, disagreed, arguing that "public school sports are for public school kids."

Incorporating those students would make it difficult to enforce discipline and academic requirements for athletes, said Ken Tilley, executive director of the Virginia High School League. It also would create a double standard that would unfairly disadvantage public school students, opponents said.

The House Students and Early Education Subcommittee OK'd its version. The Senate Education and Health Committee put off taking action.

Similar legislation cleared the House of Delegates for the first time last year before failing on a narrow vote in a Senate committee.

Kathy Adams, 804-697-1563, kathy.adams@pilotonline.com

Julian Walker, 804-697-1564, julian.walker@pilotonline.com

Posted to: Education High Schools News Politics Sports State Government Virginia

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The VSHL is a monopoly run by a monopoly out of Charlottesville with its roots in UVA elitism.

No wonder they prefer discrimination.

If a parent wants to isolate

If a parent wants to isolate their children from society by home schooling then why have them be part of a sports team?

Off base

The parents I know that do home-schooling don't do it for isolation, rather they do it because they feel the quality of education in public schools is lacking.

Why don't they feel the same

Why don't they feel the same about the quality of the sports?

Team sports impractical in a

Team sports impractical in a home school location;
In contrast, they receive a superior education.
Moreover, they avoid the statist indoctrination
That is inherent in the sphere of public education.

Not all mind you, but most

Not all mind you, but most of the parents that I know who home school are not qualified to teach. It's based on emotional and often religious reason that the children have been withdrawn from schools.

ALL students I've met in the

ALL students I've met in the home school sphere,
Are well ahead of their state schooled peers.

All Home School

If you're a decent and caring parent, you've already home-schooled your children. It's called helping them with homework, study for a test, or anything else your child needs that they're not getting from school. I'm not saying teachers as a whole aren't doing their job, but I do know that a child may not understand a topic the way a teacher teaches it, when presented in an alternate way by a parent, often times that light of understanding flares. And none of that has anything to do with religion.

Nor is it the subject at

Nor is it the subject at hand. What you describe is being a parent. The better one's do everything you speak of, but we are talking about parents who pull their kids essentially out of the real world to prepare them to go back into it. There should be more checks and balances. For every success I can show you more disasters. I can show you 4 from one family today.


Because our schools spend plenty of effort on sports.

Tax Money

Every tax payer foots the bill for public schools. If the home schooler's parents want their children to play atheltics, there shouldn't be anything preventing them; unless of course those same parents would be refunded all their tax money. I recently found out Wilson High school in Portsmouth provides child care . . . thank God I'm no longer a tax payer in that economic sink hole of a city. If the tax payer can foot the bill for baby momma's to get dey learnin, then a home schooler dang sure should be allowed to play sports.


The program that is housed in Wilson High School is open to all those in need. This program is not for the students to bring their children to school. This program is to give students experience in the Early Childhood Education field of employment. When the students leave school they will have a certificate in Early Childhood Education. Maybe you should get your facts straight before you go spitting off at the mouth about something you know nothing. Portsmouth also has an LPN Program, A Culinary Program, A Horiculture Program, and many more programs they can benefit from. The goal is to give students job training so they can get a job when they graduate as well as move on to college.

Parents do not choose home

Parents do not choose home schooling to "isolate" their children. They choose that option for too many reasons to list here. As an employee of a public school, I assure you, if my child were still in school...there is NO way I would have her in public school. Children should not be "left out" because they live in a "sub-standard" school district and are home school OR because their parent is military and that poor child is uprooted constantly with no say in the matter. Military children should have special consideration. They deal with enough as it is without being kicked out of social activities.

Such ignorance!

I'm a proud homeschooler and choose to do so NOT to isolate my children from society, but rather prepare them to be a productive member of society. Do your research about homeschooling! It is about being in control of what your children learn and not having to deal with the bureaucracy of our flawed government. The government already has too much control in our lives and will not control how I raise my children, who by the way are intelligent, well socialized, caring, individuals....

So Why

So why do you want your kids involved in government controlled sports?


what blooming ignorance. This explains how we got Obama/a degenerate govt. for a second term.

Home school and sports

as to the whole home school/Tim Tebow deal...what teachers in the public sector seem to forget that home school parents pay exactly the same amount of taxes even though they chose to home school their children. It's taxation without any representation. Let them play and quit trying to foster your beliefs on them - this is America,


Home schoolers don't necessarily want to isolate their kids, they just want them educated differently from the common milieu.
I pay taxes and have no kids in school. I don't mind if home school kids want to use "my" sports equipment that "I" paid for. I also don't mind if the Military kids use the equipment or pom poms that "I" bought.


It is true that parents of home schooled children pay the same taxes. It is not true that the money goes to the schools. The money allocated for schools from city, state, and federal funding is based on student population. It DOES NOT include home schooled nor private schooled children. Schools barely receive enough funds to support athletic programs as it is. Middle school sports have been cut constantly over the years. The extra students will create extra expense for these programs but no extra money. I really don’t get the whole, “public education is not good enough for my child but the sports are” argument but, if these children are going to participate in the public education system in any way, they should be counted in on the numbers for

Not Shopping

If I recall correctly, Brianna was not "shopping" for a school, but was merely attempting to participate in the school that she had previously attended before moving to Japan. Hers was clearly a case that needed rectifying and I was glad to see that it was decided in her favor.

It's Time This Little Fiefdom Had Someone Take A

good look at their doings! Great work legislators! Our military children deserve better than what they are getting from this group of ninnies!

"Tim Tebow" Law

I am the leader of the Virginia Home School Athletic Association. We are about to hold our third annual state basketball championship at the beginning of March. This opportunity would not be possible if families did not decide to home school their children. Opportunity abounds for students to play sports in VA.

My wife an I chose to home school our children over 15 years ago. There were many factors, but one of the biggest for us was the climate in which public schools portray today. We did not want the social issues to be a hindrance in our childrens' education.

For that reason, this is a bad bill. We chose to SEPARATE ourselves...once we did that, we forfeited any options to be involved with the public schools. We CHOSE that.

Tim Tebow Law...cont.

This seems to be a good thing for students who's families are in the military. If a child goes to a school, they should be afforded the opportunity to play for that school's team(s).

Take out the home school aspect of this and this law is acceptable.

The VEA is hostile toward

The VEA is hostile toward those who home school.
Statists know the educated are more difficult to rule.


Parents of home schoolers and private school children pay the same city taxes as the parents of public school children. Therefore, their children should be allowed the same priviliges whether they choose to attend in-district school or not.

Tough Call to make -

there are valid points on both sides of this issue...

Military unwelcome in VA

If the VHSL opposes this they're saying they don't care about military families.

Get off your high horses and use some common sense.

Don't Change It

I agree with VHSL, PTA and VEA on this one. Everybody today wants to be an exception to rules that are established for good reasons.

Not students, stay off the team.

Are homeschooled children students at the schools whose teams they'd be joining? No, they aren't. That means they don't belong there. Homeschooling is a choice parents make. Choices have consequences. Kid may get a better education, kid may avoid unwanted indoctrination. Fine, but that comes with a price: kid misses out on all the extra-curriculars the school provides for its students and only its students. Don't try to have your cake and eat it too. Homeschool or public school or private school. You should have to pick one and commit to it 100% for the year, not be able to hold your kid out of a school but then steal a spot on a team from a kid who actually goes to that school.


For the home schooled---with the collection of our taxes comes the consequence of the equal use of the services they provide... As for special provisions for military children-- it is deplorable that a school system or youth sports organization would discriminate against the children of service members. These students and their families pay far more then their "fair share" to be deserving of the same opportunities as the students who are never put through the hardships of constant moves, changing schools, and not growing up with their childhood friends. Freedom is not free, take care of those that pay that debt (and their families).

"steal a spot"?

This is not about Affirmative Action.
It's not a quota that has to be met. The kids still have to be able to "make" the team.
The parents pay taxes for the use of public facilities. If they choose not to use all of them then that is their choice.
It's no different than going to the rec center that taxes pay for. It's just a local venue that is available for which the parents have paid the "dues". I pay he dues also. I just don't have anyone around anymore that can play in the Youth League but I still support the Youth Sports Programs with my "dues".
dues = taxes.

Taxes are not "dues".

Rec centers do have separate membership fees. You go into one without paying that, they'll rightly kick you out for trespassing because the fact that you pay taxes doesn't give you any rights to use facilities that aren't there for the general public. School facilities are not and never have been for the general public, they're for the students and anyone who rents them from the school. Only.

A homeschool student trying to get on a public school sports team has no more business being on it, because they aren't students at that school, than a student at Lake Taylor has trying to be on a team at Granby.

"Affirmative action" isn't the right analogy. Illegal immigration comes close, though.

Nobody's said it so far

She sure is a pretty young lady.


Because it is completely irrelevant to the issue. Are the rights and aspirations of the "not so beautiful" not of equal consideration?

dive a little deeper

Irrelevant to the issue at hand, but true nevertheless.

I can't make a simple observation?

I fought very hard for these relaxed posting rules, you should be thanking me instead.

Comment deleted

Comment removed for rules violation. Reason: Racial, ethnic, group attack

eliminate school sports

School sports take up about 25% of the administration's time grooming fields, buying dirt, and explaining to little Mary's parents why she isn't starting at 2nd base.

Why do we pay coaching stipends, bus drivers, buses, gas, lost tax revenue due to schools sitting on 20 acre sites, 20 acres of lawn maintenance, semi-pro gyms and stadiums, weekend heat for practices, etc ad nauseum, and then hear over and over how we can't afford more classrooms, more teachers or necessary EDUCATIONAL supplies?

Go down to city hall and try to find out how much is spent on school sports programs, I dare ya. Every dime is mixed in with maintenance and educational accounts never to be identified.

Move it to the rec leagues where all can play.

move it to rec leagues

How ignorant. The rec leagues charge fees. And someone has to provide the facilities -- ah yes, the taxpayers.

"SB1191 would specifically

"SB1191 would specifically apply to students who reside in on-base housing that falls in one school district but who attend a public school in a nearby district, which is allowed under law.Those students can't play sports under those circumstances, however, which the proposal seeks to remedy."

Does this happen in this area? Does "district" mean city or school zone? For example, right now Little Creek students on base go to VBCPS schools. Are they allowed to choose any VB school (not including gifted programs or academies) as the article says, with the stipulation that they can't play sports or do interscholastics there? With bill's passage, could hs sports teams recruit, since presumably these students could go to any school?

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