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‘Tebow Bill’ passes in House, awaits action in Senate

RICHMOND – Home-schooled students in Virginia could participate in public school sports under the so-called “Tebow bill” that has been passed by the House and will be considered by a Senate committee this week.

Delegates voted 56-43 for House Bill 1442, which will be heard by the Senate Health and Education Committee on Thursday. The bill, sponsored by Del. Robert Bell, R-Albemarle, would require public schools to allow home-schoolers to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities.

Many parents who home-school their children support the legislation, which is nicknamed for NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who played football for his local high school while being home-schooled in Florida.

“I should be able to choose whether my kids play sports or not,” said Brad Foster, the father of five athletic home-schooled boys in Culpeper.

Currently in Virginia, no student who is being educated at home can join a public school sports team during the regular season. Families with home-schooled athletes like Foster’s must find other ways to participate in sports or opt out of playing sports completely.

Foster said the opportunity for his children to play sports goes away once they reached middle school. To allow his children to play sports, Foster has organized a basketball team. However, that’s expensive because home-schooling families must rent gym space whereas public schools provide everything for sports teams, Foster said.

“We want to use the privilege because we also pay taxes for [public schools] as well,” Foster said. Parents who home-school their children are not exempt from taxes.

Virginia has more than 32,000 home-schoolers, including about 8,000 at the high school level, according to the Virginia Department of Education. Albemarle County, for example, has more than 500 home-schoolers.

The Keyser family in Albemarle County also has struggled with the problem. Ethan Keyser, 17, is a junior in high school and likes to play football and lacrosse.

“I would like the opportunity to try out on a high school athletic team,” Ethan said.

Until high school, he played both sports because of various recreation teams, according to his father, Matt Keyser. Now that Ethan is in high school, he cannot play either sport except during off-season.

During off-season, Ethan was asked to play for several traveling high-school lacrosse teams, Matt Keyser said.

“He’s 6-foot-one, 210 pounds, and every coach he has ever played said they wished Ethan could play during the regular season,” Keyser said.

Ethan is now looking to apply for college. “It would’ve looked good on my college transcripts to have that I played several high school sports,” he said.

When the House voted on HB 1442 on Jan. 31, Republicans generally supported the legislation and Democrats mostly opposed it.

Del. David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, and Del. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, for instance, both voted against bill.

“The public school system is not an a la carte menu that you can pick and choose what you want to participate in,” McClellan said. She said the “Tebow bill” raises a “matter of fairness.”

Toscano agreed.

“One worry is that you would have a situation where a youngster in a public school was denied to participate because a home-schooler took their spot,” he said.

After passing the House, HB 1442 was referred to the Senate Committee on Education and Health. The committee’s next meeting is at 8:30 a.m. Thursday in Senate Room B in the General Assembly Building. If the committee approves the bill, it will go to the full Senate for a vote.

An identical measure, Senate Bill 812, had been filed in the Senate in December by Sen. Thomas Garrett, R-Hadensville. But Garrett withdrew his proposal on Jan. 31.

How They Voted

Here is how the House voted Jan. 31 on “HB 1442 Public school interscholastic programs; participation of students receiving home instruction.”

House: VOTE: PASSAGE (56-Y 43-N)


Rich Anderson (R-51)
Dickie Bell (R-20)
Rob Bell (R-58)
Kathy Byron (R-22)
Ben Cline (R-24)
Mark Cole (R-88)
Barbara Comstock (R-34)
John Cosgrove (R-78)
John A. Cox (R-55)
Kirk Cox (R-66)
Matt Fariss (R-59)
Peter Farrell (R-56)
Scott Garrett (R-23)
Todd Gilbert (R-15)
Tag Greason (R-32)
Greg Habeeb (R-8)
Chris Head (R-17)
Keith Hodges (R-98)
Bill Howell (R-28)
Sal Iaquinto (R-84)
Johnny Joannou (D-79)
Chris Jones (R-76)
Terry Kilgore (R-1)
Barry Knight (R-81)
Steve Landes (R-25)
Jim LeMunyon (R-67)
Scott Lingamfelter (R-31)
Manoli Loupassi (R-68)
Bob Marshall (R-13)
Danny Marshall (R-14)
Jimmie Massie (R-72)
Joe May (R-33)
Don Merricks (R-16)
Jackson Miller (R-50)
Randy Minchew (R-10)
Rick Morris (R-64)
Joe Morrissey (D-74)
John O’Bannon (R-73)
Chris Peace (R-97)
Brenda Pogge (R-96)
Charles Poindexter (R-9)
Bob Purkey (R-82)
David Ramadan (R-87)
Margaret Ransone (R-99)
Roxann Robinson (R-27)
Nick Rush (R-7)
Ed Scott (R-30)
Beverly Sherwood (R-29)
Chris Stolle (R-83)
Ron Villanueva (R-21)
Mike Watson (R-93)
Michael Webert (R-18)
Tony Wilt (R-26)
Tommy Wright (R-61)
David Yancey (R-94)
Joseph Yost (R-12)


Dave Albo (R-42)
Mamye BaCote (D-95)
Bob Brink (D-48)
David Bulova (D-37)
Betsy Carr (D-69)
Anne Crockett-Stark (R-6)
Rosalyn Dance (D-63)
James Edmunds (R-60)
Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41)
Gordon Helsel (R-91)
Charniele Herring (D-46)
Daun Hester (D-89)
Patrick Hope (D-47)
Algie Howell (D-90)
Tim Hugo (R-40)
Riley Ingram (R-62)
Matthew James (D-80)
Joseph Johnson (D-4)
Mark Keam (D-35)
Kaye Kory (D-38)
Rob Krupicka (D-45)
Lynwood Lewis (D-100)
Alfonso Lopez (D-49)
Jennifer McClellan (D-71)
Delores McQuinn (D-70)
Will Morefield (R-3)
Israel O’Quinn (R-5)
Bobby Orrock (R-54)
Ken Plum (D-36)
Lacey Putney (I-19)
Tom Rust (R-86)
Jim Scott (D-53)
Mark Sickles (D-43)
Lionell Spruill (D-77)
Scott Surovell (D-44)
Bob Tata (R-85)
Luke Torian (D-52)
David Toscano (D-57)
Roslyn Tyler (D-75)
Jeion Ward (D-92)
Lee Ware (R-65)
Onzlee Ware (D-11)
Vivian Watts (D-39)

Didn’t Vote

Mark Dudenhefer (R-2)

According to the Legislation Information Service, Dudenhefer was recorded as not voting. Intended to vote yea.

Delegate O’Quinn was recorded as nay. Intended to vote yea.


Enuf is right.  Why can’t the private school kids play too?  Their parents pay taxes. 

Not that it matters anymore, I believe this was officially “killed” yesterday.

Homeschooled kids perform better on the SAT according to the US DEPT EDU. Maybe the public school kids could learn a few things from their neighbors who are schooled at home during the time they spend together practicing and competing.

The notion that competing for your local High School is a basic right based on the payment of taxes is nonsense. We all pay taxes equally and yet there are many county services that not everyone uses - doesn’t mean we begrudge paying for them. Meanwhile, if a family choose to opt out of the local High School experience for ‘precious’  because they prefer to do things their way, then why should they be allowed to bypass the attendance side of school rules and yet join in for the fun stuff? This a clear example of them trying to have their cake and eat it! Most homeschool parents seem to have a fairly scathing opinion of Public School, or have a child, that doesn’t quite fit in to the public school ‘mould’ and as a result, they prefer to take a more individualized approach to their education! It’s interesting that they would actually want to join in with the ‘masses’ on the school sports fields and gymnasiums! Imagine how strange this experience will be for the child and how uncomfortable it will be for the Coaches too! How on earth does a Coach now enforce attendance rules, excused absences, grades and tardiness with the regular kids, when others can lie in bed all day if they so wish!

Why all the hate over this issue. Let the kids play. It will hurt nothing.

“If you let homeschool kids play on public high school teams then you should allow those whose children attend private schools do the same.  Is that covered in this bill?  If you go by the reasoning that homeschool parents pay taxes and their kids should get to play, then it works the same for those parents with kids in private school.”
Absolutely kids in private school who want to participate in a sport that is offered by the public school in their county but not in their private school should be allowed to participate! Having a larger pool of athletes to chose from can only make these teams better. High school sports is much more about winning than the youth sports environment these parents seem stuck in. How can this not make the teams more successful? The parents who complain about playing time for their little Jane, are the same parents who fail to see how this bill could make the team more successful which is why they play the game.

I just live how the Liberals are so “inclusive” and “accommodating”... Unless you don’t agree with their agenda
We all pay usury taxes to fund Government schools, and so do parents of home schooled children so they have a right to play sports. 
Now lets focus on school choice where we’ll see real improvements in education.

If you let homeschool kids play on public high school teams then you should allow those whose children attend private schools do the same.  Is that covered in this bill?  If you go by the reasoning that homeschool parents pay taxes and their kids should get to play, then it works the same for those parents with kids in private school.

Homeschool parents pay taxes that support the police department but I don’t think you’d argue they should be able to walk up and drive off in a patrol car when they feel like it.  There’s a lot more to participating in a school than swooping in at 3 for practice.

Anyone ever ask how the kids feel about their parents imposing such control over them?

If home-schooled kids want to play at the high school, then enroll in public high school.  Otherwise, enjoy the travel circuit for your sports. 

Public school kids are held to rules and are held accountable by unbiased professionals. 
LCPS students have to be in class by 9:15 and remain in school all day to be eligible.  Who is making sure the home-school kid is awake and taking classes all day?  Parents are too close to make this decision.  Too many will do ANYTHING for their kids.

Home school providers only have to provide evidence of progress once per year, an LCPS athlete would be removed from their team if they were not taking and passing at least 5 classes.  As a result they are held accountable 4X more than a home school kid.  Home school kids would not be held to the same standards as the kids that actually go to the school and represent it. 

The fact that home school parents pay taxes too shouldn’t matter.  It is a civic duty.  It was your choice not to use the services you are taxed for.  Public school isn’t a pick and choose deal.  It is all or none.  You want your kid to play sports for the high school, then enroll them at the high school and go get a day job.

Will the home-school populations be held to the same grading expectations, standards of learning requirements, and criteria for public school accreditation in order to be eligible?  I’m curious about potential outrage when some do not make the “cut” at tryouts.

If Dr. Hatrick doesn’t want home schooler playing for “his” teams, then he shouldn’t be counting them on the education census he submits to the state.

Why are you mean spirited liberals trying to keep home-schooled kids out of sports? It’s just sports, not biblical indoctrination.

Homeschool parents pay the same taxes as any other citizen of the state.  That means that their tax dollars fund the school.  Why shouldn’t they benefit from any school activity they wish.

Wrong….there are plenty of opportunities for homeschool kids to play sports…scholarships don’t just happen with kids who play for public schools.  Most of the scholarships happen because the kids are playing on “travel” teams that aren’t affiliated with any school.  Now if you live in a part of VA where there aren’t many travel club teams, that’s your problem and you do need to start one up…lots of people have done it.  Let’s focus on something that’s a bit more pressing to the greater good of VA other than high school sports.

Homeschoolers prevail with right-wing delegates.  No news here but it is sad that a state government that can’t seem to do anything about things we really need to fix (e.g., one-gun-a-month, Northern Virginia transportation, etc) can find time to do a bit of damage to the public school system.

You don’t just pick the parts of public school that you like and ignore the rest.  In or Out homeschoolers…make your choice and live with it.

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