District Policies Sideline Homeschoolers


New Jersey homeschoolers in Warren County are restricted from participating in Warren HIlls sports and are forced to find other forms of comradery. (Sarah J. Glover/MCT)

The Warren Hills Regional School District (WHRSD) refuses homeschooled participation in any extracurriculars. This policy is completely unjustified and homeschooled students should have the right to participate, just like public school students. 

The Warren Hills Regional Board of Education District policy number 2431 states, “Home schooled children are not eligible to participate in the high school interscholastic athletic program of this district.”

There does not seem to be an explanation for the exclusion of these students, beyond the fact that they are homeschooled.

Nearly 12  years ago, on Nov. 9, 2011, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) amended its bylaws to  provide local public school districts with the ability to allow homeschool students to compete in extracurricular sports and activities.

Yet despite this ruling surrounding school districts, like Hackettstown, permitting homeschoolers to partake in such activities, Warren Hills’ extracurricular offerings remain closed to homeschoolers.

Homeschooled students and their parents are baffled by this archaic and exclusionary policy. 

Homeschooling parents pay property taxes for the public school, yet homeschoolers, who live in the district and are in the school system, are denied the opportunity to play sports and be in clubs. Often these students cannot find a non-school team close enough to play with, or one that has enough players to compete.

One reason for excluding homeschooled students given by other school districts is that students who want to participate in sports are held to a high academic standard and their grades need to be monitored. But NJSIAA even states that a homeschooler needs to, “demonstrate that he is academically qualified and receiving an equivalent education” in order for them to compete.  

As a matter of fact, homeschooled students usually embrace a more rigorous learning program and their academic performance often exceeds those involved in public schools.

According to the National Home Education Research Institute, a clearinghouse on research regarding homeschooling, “The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests.” 

Public schools do not have access to homeschoolers’ grades, but what if students were willing to volunteer them? That way, they would still be held to the same standards and meet the same expectations as  student-athletes attending public school. 

Homeschooled students are part of the Warren Hills community, but are being overlooked simply because they don’t walk through one particular building’s doors for their education. 

Homeschoolers, whose parents support local school districts as taxpayers, miss many different opportunities related to sports. They often miss out on college scholarship opportunities, too.

They also miss out on comradery. They don’t have the chance to make friends and lifelong bonds with their teammates or club members.

Social and emotional learning is an important part of attending public schools. Yet the WHRSD policy deprives homeschooled students of furthering part of their education.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the overall rate of parents choosing to homeschool their kids has grown from 5.4% to 11.1%. With homeschooling becoming increasingly popular, it only makes sense that Warren Hills’ homeschooled students should have the right to participate in public school activities.