ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – In a tight 4-3 vote, Abilene ISD school board trustees granted permission in its July meeting Monday for homeschooled students to compete in the district’s UIL sanctioned activities.

“I’m joyful,” said homeschool parent and former AISD soccer coach, David Rodriguez. “It was tense. There was a yes, then a no, then a yes!”

AISD’s vote comes roughly one year after UIL opened it’s events up to nontraditional students, via House Bill 547. The organization’s deadline for districts to accept or deny home schoolers admission into programs is soon approaching on August 1, likely a factor in the timeliness of Monday evening’s vote.

The board discussed the agenda item for more than half-an-hour, the split nearly down the middle. Some trustees voiced concern that logistics outweighed the benefits of opening up the program, while others said doing so could result in home school students choosing to enroll in the district.

Trustees, however, did implement a stipulation in the night’s ruling. While trustees have approved the district to accept home school students in UIL activities, the board will assess reports by July 2023 on the success of the change with the authority to rescind access to extracurriculars to nontraditional students.

The task likely ahead of the district now is arranging guidelines for home school athletes and competitors – outlining issues like travel and equipment costs.