RICHMOND – For the time being, legislation that would allow students educated at home to play public school sports has been held back in the Virginia Senate while similar legislation survives in the House of Delegates.
The fate of another contested piece of education policy – a bill to let certain undocumented students pay in-state tuition at Virginia colleges and universities – seems sealed after being defeated in committee this morning.
Two bills from Sen. Tom Garrett would prohibit public schools from joining an interscholastic governing organization, such as the Virginia High School League, whose rules restrict home schoolers from participating in public school athletics and related activities.
One of those measures had an exception for private school students who want to join a public extracurricular activity not offered at their school.
Similar legislation is pending in the House of Delegates, which passed the same bill last year before it narrowly failed in a Senate committee.
Such proposals have been dubbed “Tim Tebow” bills named for the NFL quarterback who was allowed to participate in public school athletics as a Florida home schooler.
“I continue to be a champion for this idea and will work to see Virginia fall in line with the majority of other states that allow this” said Garrett, R-Louisa County, expressing hope the House bill will gain traction when it comes to the Senate.
Also Thursday, the Senate committee’s Republican majority on an 8-7 party line vote rejected SB 1090 to let undocumented students receive in-state tuition if they graduated from a state high school, have certain federal paperwork and their parents have paid state income taxes.
Sen. Jeff McWaters, R-Virginia Beach, expressed concern that the measure would result in Virginia students who are American citizens being denied access to state colleges and universities.
Citing ongoing federal discussions about immigration reform, Sen. Richard Saslaw argued that it’s foolish to nix the bill.
“If you vote against it you’re just standing against the tide of history,” said Saslaw, D-Fairfax County.
A House subcommittee recently advanced a similar in-state tuition bill.
- Julian Walker, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot