Home-schoolers’ participation in public school activities ‘hit or miss,’ advocate complains


LITTLE ROCK — Some Arkansas school districts are incorrectly interpreting a new law that allows home-schooled students to participate in interscholastic activities at public schools, a legislative panel heard Monday.

Jerry Cox, president of the Christian conservative Family Council, which supported Act 1469 of this year, told legislators that implementation of the law varies widely from district to district.

“All the school districts are making their own rules and regs … as to how to implement this law. It’s just hit or miss as to what you get if you’re a home-schooler,” Cox told a joint meeting of the House and Senate education committees.

As examples, Cox said districts have told students they must be present at the school for at least three periods per school day, though the law says students can only be required to be present for one period per day; and have told students they must be at school for an entire school year to qualify for interscholastic activities, though the law contains no such requirement.

State Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell told the panel that state education officials are preparing a list of questions and answers to give school superintendents guidance on interpreting the law.

Some legislators said they believe the state Department of Education should adopt new rules and regulations on implementing the law. Kimbrell said that process would take months and could not be completed before classes start next month.

Rep. Justin Harris, R-West Fork, urged Kimbrell to issue immediate guidance and adopt new rules and regulations.

“This is a time when we need leadership,” Harris told Kimbrell.