ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Homeschoolers in the Abilene ISD district expressed their wishes for equal opportunity to participate in UIL (University Interscholastic League) activities, which is now allowed through House Bill 547. However, the challenges that could come with this have left most school districts across the State of Texas opting out, with the exception of Wylie ISD.
“I live half a mile away. I see them run by my house, training, and I just want to play for them,” said Carter Batten, an Abilene ISD homeschooled student.
Batten spoke up at the school board meeting because he wants to play on the soccer team, which is now allowed through House Bill 547, but AISD has elected to not participate- leaving many local homeschooled students with feelings of exclusion.
“I had to sit by my 16-year-old, who played soccer with all those kids, and he couldn’t play because we live in Abilene High and not in Wylie,” said one local parent of a homeschooler, who also spoke at the meeting.
Another parent said, “I’m just here to plea that you help us fight for our freedom as home schoolers.”
Even though these parents are seeking equal opportunity for their children, it is not as simple to opt into this bill as some might think. The school will have to prepare for some challenges.
Executive director of fine arts for AISD, Jay Lester, explained to KTAB/KRBC that these issues include eligibility, monitoring grades, added expenses, travel and regulation of practice to follow UIL’s rules.
“We would not receive any additional funding from the state for those students,” Lester said.
Even so, Wylie ISD has welcomed a few homeschoolers to participate for almost a year, since the bill was updated.
“We haven’t had any real issues,” said Wylie Superintendent Joey Light.
Light explained that the reason they have not had much of a funding issue is because they only had about five homeschoolers participate this past school year.
“The cost has been pretty negligible for us,” Light explained further.
While he says he understands many schools are hesitant, Light said Wylie is one of only 21 districts in all of Texas that have opted into this.
Lester with Abilene ISD said even though a decision has not yet been made, “we are listening. But we do know that there are some difficulties and challenges that we would have to work out if we were to do this.”
This item has not yet been added to any upcoming board meeting agenda at AISD to be discussed further.