For Immediate Release: February 29, 2016
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Brian Coy, (804) 225-4260, Brian.Coy@governor.virginia.gov

Governor McAuliffe Vetoes Bills on Home-Schooled Students Participating in Interscholastic Competitions

 

Governor Terry McAuliffe today vetoed two bills related to students whom receive home instruction’s ability to participate in interscholastic programs. They are HB131 and SB612. The Governor sent the letter below to the General Assembly detailing his reasons for vetoing both bills: 

“Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 131/Senate Bill 612, which prohibits public schools from joining any organization governing interscholastic programs that does not allow home-schooled students to participate. 

“More than 300 public schools belong to the Virginia High School League (VHSL), an organization through which member schools have regulated interscholastic competition since 1913. Each year over 200,000 public school students, who satisfy the VHSL’s 13 individual eligibility requirements, participate in one or more of the league’s 27 sports and 11 academic activities. 

“Allowing home-schooled students to participate in interscholastic competitions would disrupt the level playing field Virginia’s public schools have developed over the past century. For example, VHSL rules state that a student must pass five subjects or the equivalent in the previous semester, and be enrolled in five subjects or the equivalent offered for credit toward graduation, in order to participate in the league’s events. While the bill provides that home-schooled students must demonstrate evidence of progress in order to participate in interscholastic activities, the unique nature of their educational situation precludes conformity to the same standards. 

“Virginia’s public schools provide a complete package of scholastic offerings and access to extracurricular activities. Participation in athletic and academic competitions is a privilege for students who satisfy eligibility requirements.  Opening participation in those competitions to individuals who are not required to satisfy the same criteria upends Virginia’s extracurricular framework and codifies academic inequality in interscholastic competition. 

“Accordingly, I veto this bill.”

 

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