Lenape Regional BOE keeps policy barring homeschool students from extracurricular activities

After comments against the the policy from the public at the board’s Nov. 16 meeting, the BOE unanimously voted to uphold the policy.

By BRIGIT BAUMA

Homeschool students, as well as those not educated one of the Lenape Regional High School District’s four schools, will continue to be barred from participating in curricular, extra-curricular or athletic activities in the LRHSD.

The Board of Education unanimously upheld the policy at its meeting on Nov. 16, despite public comment urging the board to revise the policy.

Tabernacle resident Marni Cunard requested her son Adam, a homeschool student, be allowed to play on the Seneca High School football team. She said she could provide references of character and equivalent education, and how other surrounding school districts allow homeschool students to play.

The Pearson family of Mt. Holly came to the meeting and said their home-schooled children are allowed to participate in extracurricular activities at Rancocas Valley Regional High School. Husband and wife Ed and Robin felt allowing a homeschool student to play at the local high school is more about community, building an open relationship and community of inclusion.

“I think sometimes we can get caught up in discussing homeschooling versus academics … It is more about community because a school is a part of a community,” Ed said. “I ask that you look at your mission statement (talking about community) and what students can learn from this experience and the reports going out … Was (LRHSD) an open community that drove home inclusion of all types of educational opportunities?”

Other members of the public who spoke at the meeting all supported revising the policy.

After public comment, board member Joseph Borucki of Evesham motioned to not change the district’s policy. He said this is not an educational issue, but an extracurricular one, as extracurricular participation is not a right, but a privilege for LRHSD students. He said the policy is designed specifically for students to ensure a level playing field. He also mentioned a lot of schools in Burlington County still have similar policies.

Borucki said a similar discussion about a homeschool student from Marlton who wanted to play for Cherokee High School was brought up in 2007. The board discussed it and decided to stand by the policy then, and Borucki felt the board should stand by it now.

“Our job as a school board is to properly enforce policies. We have to do it consistently, legally, and we have to it unbiasedly,” Borucki said.