Some home-schooled students will be eligible to join sports teams at their local public schools under new rules adopted by the Indiana High School Athletic Association.
The rules, approved by the IHSAA's board of directors this week, require that the students must have been home-schooled for three straight years, complete all state-required school testing and attend at least one class a day at their local public high school.
IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox said the stipulations in place will assure a clear definition of a home-schooled student.
"This will allow the true home-schooled student an opportunity," Cox told The Indianapolis Star. "With the three-year provision, a parent can't just pull their student out of school if they are unhappy and sign them up somewhere else as a home-schooled student. That's not the intent of the rule."
The new rules will take effect in the 2013-14 school year. Home-schooled students will not be allowed to compete on teams at private schools affiliated with the IHSAA, but they will be allowed to play on teams at charter schools, which are public schools.
Nearly half of states nationwide have similar rules for home-schooled athletes to play on public school teams, IHSAA spokesman Jason Wille said.
It isn't clear how many home-school students might try to play sports at their public schools, but it will open up options to those such as Ally Rohn of Cedar Lake in northwestern Indiana's Lake County.
Rohn is a high school sophomore who's among the home-schoolers who make up about two-thirds of the girls volleyball team at Calumet Christian School, which has won three straight national championships at the National Association of Christian Athletes tournament in Tennessee.
Rohn said she expects to stay with the Calumet Christian team even though the new rule would let her play at nearby Hanover Central High School.
"I thought about playing (IHSAA volleyball) before," she told The Times of Munster. "Hanover Central did very well and I thought about what it would be like to play on a team like that. I think this is a good rule because it gives home-school kids an option."