Open Forum

Homeschool involvement?

  • 1.  Homeschool involvement?

    Posted 02-03-2020 14:21
    Hi, all,

    Mostly for Alabama teachers, since states tend to mind their own sets of rules, though open to all.

    Do you allow homeschooled students to participate in your extracurricular shows? The state's athletics governance allows homeschoolers to play sports as long as they take one elective class at the school, but there are no existing guidelines (that I know of) for arts extracurriculars. My first ask brought up questions of liability and whether the student lived within district limits (he does), but I have not gotten a final answer yet.


    Josh Kauffman
    Teacher, Thespian Society/Drama Club sponsor
    Winfield City Schools
    Winfield, AL

  • 2.  RE: Homeschool involvement?

    Posted 02-04-2020 07:17
    I'm in Arkansas, but I have had lots of experience with this, so replying in case it helps. 1) AAA governs most (maybe all) competition in our schools: sports, cheer, quiz bowl, drama, etc. Ask your admin about these. 2) There are "Tim Tebow" laws that basically say homeschoolers in your district can NOT be prevented from participating in extracurricular activities (but again - check/call AAA or whatever you have that governs competition if that is involved). 3) We have always welcomed homeschoolers to be in our productions, but we recently chartered our Thespian troupe, so it did present another challenge.  A homeschooler can join, but competition and travel is another issue. My district required her to enroll and take a class in order to travel with us and be covered by the school's insurance. This was really not a big deal. She joined my theater I class. 4) Students outside of the district can be released from their district too. My student was because her district did not have an active drama department or Thespian troupe. Hope this helps some!

    Tracye Couture
    South Arkansas

  • 3.  RE: Homeschool involvement?

    Posted 02-04-2020 08:25
    I'm in PA - but our district does allow homeschooled students to participate in theatre (and sports, etc.)  Now that cyber schools are more readily available, though, we have been told that they may NOT participate.

    One of my kiddos from last year (Brooke in Noises Off, and a very talented dancer) - switched to cyber so that she could fast track her graduation & skip a year - to pursue college study of theatre/dance.  The district would not allow her to be a part of our program this year.

    But we have a home-schooled student who IS allowed to be in our musical right now.  She doesn't take any classes here at all - so maintaining "academic eligibility" is still a question for me...  but they say it's okay.

    We also have a Virtual School program, where students do online courses but often come to the HS building and work in a smaller area - where they are likely more productive than if they stayed at home, but are not in the regular ed classrooms... sometimes they do 1 or 2 classes virtually, but some do all of their classes that way.  We're on a block/semester schedule.

    As more options present themselves, I think districts will have to set more policies - it drives me a little crazy when they handle things on a 'case by case' basis, because I feel like it's more difficult to be impartial - either to the student or the activity in question.  Hoping that they are applying policies consistently whether it's an athlete or a performing arts student. 

  • 4.  RE: Homeschool involvement?

    Posted 02-04-2020 08:50
    I have nothing to add, but I want to follow this discussion.  I am at a small independent school and the other schools in our athletic league are now permitting homeschooled students to play on their teams.  Our extracurricular production got dragged into the discussion because they want to apply the policy uniformly across all of the activities. Right now they are trying to iron out the policy in terms of eligibility, pro-rated tuition, etc., and I have VERY mixed feeling about the whole thing.

    Elana Kepner
    Theatre Instructor
    The Oakwood School
    Greenville NC

  • 5.  RE: Homeschool involvement?

    Posted 02-04-2020 12:07
    Count in another who's out of your state, but who would like to follow the discussion.

    My Florida public school district allows home-schooled students to participate in athletics and other extracurricular activities, so when one of my students went home-school a few years back, and asked about continuing to audition for our productions, I said yes - until I learned that my district only allows home-schooled students to participate at what would be their district-assigned neighborhood schools, where I teach at a district-wide magnet school.  The student in question didn't know the theatre teacher or any of the theatre students at her official "neighborhood" school, so she opted to try community theatre instead, where age-appropriate roles were available.  I was sorry to lose her, and I still think the rule is unfair - after all, she had been a part of our program already, not the one at her neighborhood school.

    Jeff Grove
    Theatre Teacher, Aesthetics Department Chair
    Stanton College Preparatory School
    Jacksonville FL

  • 6.  RE: Homeschool involvement?

    Posted 02-04-2020 13:04
    I'm in CO. It has come students at another school which did not have a drama program. The students were allowed to participate in the afterschool program at our HS and even hold an Officer position.
    I have had homeschoolers attend Thescon with our HS and I have mentioned to those students that they are allowed to audition. They haven't but I (the district) would allow it.

    Roger Winn
    Theatre Director
    Golden CO

  • 7.  RE: Homeschool involvement?

    Posted 02-04-2020 15:56
    Home schooled or online students would benefit from any participation in a formal school setting.  As a private voice teacher and a musical theatre director, over the years I have had the priviledge teaching students who are home schooled or schooled online.  Please consider the benefit to the students and to your program.  Usually, the parents have time to volunteer helping with every aspect of the theatre and are so happy to do so.

    Corinne Walker 480.310.7206
    Private voice teacher
    Musical theater director
    Mesa, Arizona

  • 8.  RE: Homeschool involvement?

    Posted 02-04-2020 15:57
    As long as school and district policy allows, I am always happy to involve home school, charter school, online and alternative school students to be involved. I have had wonderful experience with all of them.

    Christopher Piner
    Drama Teacher/director
    Vernal UT

  • 9.  RE: Homeschool involvement?

    Posted 02-06-2020 13:01
    There was a time in my career I would have maintained the stance of Robert and William below, and frankly I would STILL support them in their current circumstances. Ultimately we all understand best our own programs and the unique communities in which we live and work.
    For me teaching/directing has been a journey in which my attitude has changed. Kids are kids, education is education, art is art, and the theatre is a place of acceptance. So if you find your tribe with us, and together we can create some art and positive lifelong memories, let's do this. I mean no disrespect to anyone who has different objectives or lessons to teach.

    Christopher Piner
    Drama Teacher/director
    Vernal UT

  • 10.  RE: Homeschool involvement?

    Posted 02-05-2020 09:25

    Consider this my "Get off my lawn." moment.

    I do not believe that homeschooled students should participate in the extracurricular productions. They are, by choice, not a part of the school  community. I can't see taking a role away from a student who is part of the community and giving it to someone who is not.

    Every day we teach that choices have consequences. "What is your motivation?" "What is your objective?" "How do the choices you make affect the outcome of the scene / play?" Homeschooling parents have chosen to remove their children from the school environment, but some do not want to abide by the natural consequences of their choice.

    The school systems should politely decline to allow their children to participate in any school activity if they are not a member of the school community.

    Robert Smith
    VA Co-Chapter Director
    Centreville VA

  • 11.  RE: Homeschool involvement?

    Posted 02-06-2020 07:37
    Edited by Suzanne Katz 02-06-2020 07:38

  • 12.  RE: Homeschool involvement?

    Posted 02-06-2020 08:10
    In Ohio, this is mandated by law. Schools have no choice but to include home school students if they wish.

    Mark A. Zimmerman
    Theatre Director,

    Akron School for the Arts
    Firestone High School
    470 Castle Blvd
    Akron, Ohio 44313


  • 13.  RE: Homeschool involvement?

    Posted 02-06-2020 08:54
    Philosophically, I agree with Bob.  Practically, I was told they pay taxes that support the school district.

    [William] [Myatt] [Director of Theatre]

    [Pleasant Valley High School]


  • 14.  RE: Homeschool involvement?

    Posted 02-06-2020 09:44
    In Missouri, homeschool students have the right to participate in extra curriculars and take classes in their assigned district (they still pay taxes).  Competitive groups and teams have some additional rules because of eligibility requirements for attendance, but sometimes it is possible.  I don't currently have any, but I would gladly welcome them. While they aren't a part of the wider school community, they can be a part of your theatre community.  It helps them be a part of something larger and helps your "standard" students gain a wider perspective. If your group has academic rules for participation (like if you are failing any subjects, you're benched until passing), ask the parents for grade reports.  They are still held to the same standards as the rest of the troupe. I wouldn't view them as an outsider stealing roles.  They are adding to your community, not usurping it.

    Allyssa Downs
    Arnold MO

  • 15.  RE: Homeschool involvement?

    Posted 02-07-2020 07:25
    Obviously, you will have to follow your State/Local laws and abide by your admin's directives.  So, there's not much I can add which would affect your situation directly, other than to say I would definitely refer the question to my admin and make it clear to everyone that it is not up to me.

      If it were up to me, I would echo Mr. Smith's comments above.  Public school should not be à la carte.  A student is either enrolled in the school and can take advantage of the school's many programs, or they're not.  Yes, I understand that the parents pay taxes.  I just don't think that is relevant.  That's not how taxes and public education work.  Many, many people in our community pay taxes who do not have kids, or whose kids will/have never benefit(ed) from the local school district.
      It is also worth pointing out that in many cases, some portion of school funding is based on the number of students enrolled.  I support a parent's right to home-school their child.  However, if that student is not enrolled in the school, the school does not receive $X, which would have supported programs like the ones they would like to have access to.
      I don't want to be the old guy yelling "get off my lawn" either.  So, instead, let me put up a sign inviting every student to play on the lawn... as soon as they are properly enrolled.

    Guy Barbato
    Theatre Teacher/Director
    Leonardtown MD