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  • Ashanti Williams, Tranaisha Holliman

Homeschool Students No Longer Welcome

Hunter Mynes is a homeschool student who also takes Band and Journalism at Churchland High School

Homeschool students will no longer be able to attend Portsmouth Public Schools for elective-based classes for the upcoming school year, starting September, 2017.

Although this policy has been in effect since 2006, some homeschool students have been allowed to enroll in Portsmouth Public Schools part-time while receiving the majority of instruction at home.

According to school board regulations, and further supported by the Code of Virginia as amended section 22.1-254.1 22.1-78, 22.1-79, 22.1-253.13:1, “Private and homeschool students shall not be permitted to enroll part-time or to participate in academic or extracurricular activities in the Portsmouth Public School Division.”

PPS Public Information Officer Cherise Newsome says that current homeschool students will be allowed to remain in the classroom until the end of the school year, even though the rule states otherwise. The implication is that these students will not be able to enroll next year.

Hunter Mynes, a homeschool student who currently takes electives here at Churchland High School, is not happy with the recent change in enforcement.

“I don't think it's right. I don't understand why they're picking now to do it. I've been doing this for four years now [taking some public school courses while being homeschooled]; three years at this high school, one year at Churchland Middle School. I do not believe it's right.”

Assistant Principal Dr. Lineburg believes homeschool students should not be allowed to attend Portsmouth Public Schools partially for elective classes. “How can they [homeschool students] get to cherry pick what they can and can’t do,” he says.

Lineburg believes students should choose whether they want to be homeschooled or fully enrolled in public schools. CHS assistant principals Mr. Garcia and Mrs. Incorminias agree.

Principal Mr. Millaci thinks that it is tough because Portsmouth Public Schools has really good electives, but he also says he understands why this is happening.

Communications teacher Mrs. Sylve-Parker takes another stance. “Taking homeschool students out of the public school systems and not having the ability to take electives in the school setting is going to hinder their social growth,” she says. “Homeschoolers need that social interaction that they typically do not get in a school setting and them being able to come in and take a class that is an elective allows them that social interaction.”

In February of this year, Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed the “Tebow” Bill, which would have allowed homeschool students to participate in sports for their local public high schools. The bill, which passed the General Assembly before being struck down, was based largely on a rule that allowed Tim Tebow, a former NFL quarterback, to play for his local public high school while he was a full-time homeschool student. The rationale for the bill is that if Tebow were not allowed to play, he may have never reached his potential of playing in the NFL.

Photo: Remi Coney

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