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Sign the Petition to

Don Hinton, MHSAA Executive Director (601-924-6400) and Rickey Neaves, MHSAA Associate Director (601-926-4514)

Dear Don Hinton and Rickey Neaves,

We, the undersigned Mississippi homeschoolers and friends of Mississippi homeschoolers, are hereby requesting approval for homeschooled athletes to compete as unattached individuals in MHSAA competitions in sports that accommodate individual competition (such as cross-country and track and field). The athletes will provide documentation of their eligibility and insurance, if desired, to compete alongside public and private school students.

Signed,

Mary Jo Tate

This petition closed about 2 years ago

How this will help

Barring homeschoolers from MHSAA sports is discriminatory. There are 3 possible options for homeschooled athletes to compete:

1. Homeschoolers join local public school team. Works well in Florida...

Barring homeschoolers from MHSAA sports is discriminatory. There are 3 possible options for homeschooled athletes to compete:

1. Homeschoolers join local public school team. Works well in Florida (Tim Tebow); growing legislative support in MS. Could be complicated; opposition even among those who welcome homeschoolers. To avoid division & animosity, we are not pushing this.

2. 2013-14 goal: Homeschoolers document eligibility & compete as teams.

3. 2012-13 goal: Homeschoolers compete as unattached individuals; authorized by waiver from Exec Director; eligible for individual awards but not team awards.

Answers to objections to option 3:

Objection: "No member school may compete with any non-member in any activity governed by the MHSAA, without prior approval of the Executive Director." (bylaws)

Relevant to option 2 but not 3. Explicitly gives Exec Director power to grant approval.

Objection: "MHSAA policy (student enrolled full-time in a member school)."

MHSAA eligibility rules do not specify enrollment "in a member school." Rule 1a: Must "be a bona fide student..., carry the required number of subjects for graduation...deport himself satisfactorily." Homeschoolers in a legitimate home instruction program (Mississippi Code of 1972, Section 37-13-91) ARE bona fide students. In accordance with item 1e, they have chosen the high school they wish to attend (their home instruction program). Homeschoolers aren't excluded or mentioned in MHSAA bylaws.

Objection: There is no way to verify that homeschooled athletes meet the eligibility requirements. According to WCBI reporter Allie Martin, Don Hinton said, "Students have requirements to be in competitions. If you're not in a member association or independent association, we do not know if you're fulfilling requirements."

We will document each runner's fulfillment of the requirements in B1a-e & n: bona fide student, progress toward graduation, age, GPA, etc. Could create a notarized form similar to the one used when applying for a driver's license.

Objection: Unattached runners take prizes away from students on MHSAA teams.

(1) In most races where unattached runners have been eligible for top-finisher shirts, coaches add extra shirts. (2) Extra competition helps ALL athletes improve their performance & potential for scholarships. Many coaches, students, parents, and fans are thus eager for homeschooled athletes to run unattached in their cross-country meets. (3) Unattached runners don't compete for team awards; don't threaten team trophies or state rankings.

Objection: If homeschooled athletes participate in MHSAA events, there might be problems with recruitment away from public school teams to create a "dream team."

This is irrelevant to option 3 (unattached) & not an obstacle to option 2 (teams). (1) If homeschooled athletes document their eligibility, it's impossible for a student who does not meet MHSAA eligibility requirements to drop out of his school and compete as a homeschooler. (2) A student who switched from a public or private school to homeschooling would be ineligible for 1 year just as if he transferred from one member school to another. (3) Homeschooling is a serious educational commitment and is not likely to be undertaken simply for the sake of athletic eligibility. There would be NO incentive to do so in light of the previous 2 reasons.

Objection: The MHSAA Executive Committee has never granted such a request.

No one has explained the Executive Committee's refusals. The objections to allowing homeschooled athletes to compete as unattached individuals are inadequate.

The Executive Director can "approve a temporary waiver of all eligibility rules with the exception of the age limit rule for a student who in his opinion is faced with circumstances that are unforeseen, unavoidable or unusual until the next Executive Committee meeting" (MHSAA constitution VB5q). Homeschooling is not unforeseen or unavoidable but statistically is still "unusual" in Mississippi and thus eligible for a waiver.

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