All students must ensure that they are academically eligible to participate. This includes homeschoolers. To make sure that homeschool students remain academically eligible at the public school where they are registered/declared, parents agree to create and complete their prescribed academic home-based instruction course of study. To accomplish this assurance, WIAA has created a form titled Home-Based Instruction & WIAA Eligibility.
The parent establishes the academic plan for one school year. The student agrees to complete and make no changes to his/her approved academic schedule without first consulting the athletic director. This assures that the homeschool student remains academically eligible to participate.
We appreciate that WIAA staff was willing to receive input from WHO Advocacy members to address homeschool-specific rights and responsibilities in the form.
FACTS & HISTORY
A relationship was established between WHO and the WIAA in 1999. At that time two consecutive articles written by WHO, appeared in the WIAA’s Interscholastic Magazine. The articles had to do with wording that appeared in the WIAA Official Handbook. There was confusion created by the use of several terms in their eligibility wording. The misunderstanding was from lack of clarity regarding the difference between home-based instruction and alternative learning public schools.
Earlier this year WHO, once again had the occasion to meet twice with WIAA staff and legal counsel. The main reason for the meetings was homeschoolers’ eligibility to participate in WIAA-sanctioned activities.
To begin, a very important fact needs to be understood by all homeschool parents and students who want to participate in sports and other activities through the public schools. The WIAA is a private 501c3 nonprofit organization. That surprises many parents who have the misconception that the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association is a state agency and therefore somehow under the direction of say, legislators, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction or another state-level organization. The WIAA does not receive any funding via tax dollars nor does it receive any financial support from the State of Washington. The WIAA is primarily funded through ticket sales for state tournaments and other events.
Consequently, since the WIAA is not an organization accountable to the state, they are given the authority to regulate, supervise and control interscholastic activities. Which means, among other things, the definitions they choose to assign to a “student” as far as eligibility does not have to be the same definition assigned to “student” in state law. For example, a student must be a regular “member” of the school he/she represents in order to participate in interscholastic activities. We homeschool parents see the words “member of the school” and think we must give up home-based instruction status and enroll in the public school in order to participate. Not so. A homeschool student becomes a member of the school by registering (filing the Declaration of Intent to Provide Home-Based Instruction) with the school district.