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W.Va. Bill Allowing Homeschool Students To Play Public School Sports Heads To Governor

Perry Bennett
West Virginia Legislative Photography
Del. Joe Ellington, R-Mercer, speaks on the House floor on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. Ellington was the lead sponsor of House Bill 3127.

A bill that would allow homeschool students in West Virginia to participate in public school sports and other extracurricular activities is on its way to becoming law. The measure, which has failed to get across the finish line in recent legislative sessions, cleared the Senate Monday and now heads to Gov. Jim Justice for a signature.

Senators voted 32-1 Monday to approve House Bill 3127. Sen. Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, was the lone vote in opposition to the measure.

The bill, commonly known as the Tim Tebow Act for a Heisman-winning athlete who fought to play public school sports as a homeschooler, passed the House on Monday, Feb. 24 on a 61-38 vote

In order for a homeschool student to participate in public school activities under House Bill 3127, they would have to demonstrate “satisfactory academic progress for one year” and take at least one virtual course in compliance with the county in which they would participate. Homeschool student-athletes would also have to comply with the disciplinary rules of the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission and the respective county school board. 

House Bill 3127 is a shorter version of a similar bill passed by the Senate earlier this session that was never taken up in a House committee. 

Sen. Mike Romano, D-Harrison, noted that House Bill 3127 was not taken up by a Senate committee and was sent straight to the floor. He also noted that the House bill only applied to homeschool students and not private school students who attend schools that are not a part of the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission. 

“I applaud the bill because we've taken out non-SSAC private and parochial schools, which was the problem that I had with our version,” Romano said. 

The Senate’s version of the bill also detailed responsibilities of students and their parents to register with the county school board, take care of fees associated with participation and meet other academic and eligibility requirements. House Bill 3127 does not include those provisions. 

Gov. Jim Justice vetoed a version of the bill in 2017 and other attempts at making the proposal law have failed in recent sessions. 

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