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DUCHESNE DISTRICT TO CONSIDER HOME-SCHOOL POLICIES

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Parents of home-schooled children are working to come up with a policy that would allow their children to have the opportunities of dual enrollment and participation in sports and clubs.

School district policy currently either restricts or prohibits such involvement. Home schoolers say they'll present their new policy to Duchesne County School Board members for consideration in the near future.Chepeta Keel, president of the Uintah Basin West Educators Association, said home schoolers in her organization "are all together on this." Keel said parents from approximately 30 families are gathering home-school policies from other Utah school districts and obtaining legal advice as they work on the proposed policy.

"We just want to make some meaningful changes and we want a policy that will stand up and not go away."

Keel said many parents who home school would like to be able to have their children attend some public school classes they don't have the resources or capability to teach in the home. Similarly, home-taught kids want the chance to take part in sports and clubs with their peers.

So far Keel has found that some districts allow parents who home school to use the school's office equipment, while others lend out textbooks. She says school districts who work cooperatively with home-school parents are "happy to have the parents so involved."

John Aland, Duchesne County School District superintendent, said school board members are certainly willing to entertain any meaningful proposal formulated by home schoolers.

"They're very willing to listen and weigh the facts on both sides to make a policy that's in the best interest of the children," Aland said.

He says the district's current home school policy may very well be in need of revision. He said the board anticipates addressing two different home school policies.

"One is do home schoolers participate in any extracurricular activities at all and, second, how will we handle students coming in (to the district) from home school?"

Current Duchesne district policies dictate that children who are home-taught are ineligible to participate in all extracurricular activities. And because a child who is home-taught typically lacks an accredited grade, a district policy that mandates that students maintain at least a 2.0 grade-point average prior to being eligible for sports also denies participation by home-taught children for at least one sports season.

Aland said Duchesne District isn't the only one with such a restrictive policy. The Utah High School Athletics Association handbook also states that in order to be eligible to participate in sports, students must attend "full time . . . the school he/she wishes to represent."

The district's home-school policy became a controversial issue recently when a Union High ninth-grader was pulled from football team practices because he lacked a grade-point average after being home schooled the second half of his eight-grade year. His parents maintained that they were not informed of the district's policy and have protested his exclusion from the freshman football team.