Homeschool bill dies in state Senate

Published 9:31 am Friday, February 13, 2015

State senators on Thursday killed a bill aimed at allowing homeschooled students to take part in public school activities such as sports and music.

Senators voted it down on a 31-17 vote, citing concerns of fairness on issues ranging from logistics to the state’s tough vaccination law.

Supporters had dubbed Senate Bill 2329 the Tim Tebow Act, after the Heisman-winning University of Florida quarterback who had taken part in extracurricular activities despite being educated at home. The Mississippi Home Educators Association, a Christian-based group of homeschoolers, wanted language in the bill changed that would have held homeschoolers to the same standardized tests as public school students.

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In Mississippi, homeschool associations come up with their own standards from one group to the next. In Warren County, the Vicksburg Christian Home Educators group organizes smaller groups of about 30 students, usually in churches, for workshops on subjects from math to art.

State Sen. Briggs Hopson III, voted against the bill for three key reasons, he said when reached after the vote.

“One, there’s no way to monitor whether the homeschool children are meeting the grade requirements to participate in the activities,” Hopson said, adding another uncovered base was how to track homeschoolers’ compliance with state law that mandates children be vaccinated to attend public or private school.

“That was a problem for some (senators),” Hopson said.

Other issues such as liability insurance on homeschoolers in public school-based activities “were not clearly answered” in the bill, Hopson said.

No similar measure was introduced in the House of Representatives, meaning the concept is dead unless another bill is amended with the same language.