Fairfield boosts state requirements for home-school student athletic eligibility

Fairfield would require home-school students interested in playing Falcon sports to take ISTEP-subject courses.
Posted on July 16, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on July 16, 2013 at 1:56 p.m.

BENTON — Fairfield athletics may have opened its doors to local home-school students, but the qualifications to play for the Falcons are stricter than the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s standards.

Athletic director Mark Hofer shed some light on the school board’s recent decision to allow home-school students in the district to play for Fairfield sports teams.

The IHSAA passed a set of guidelines in May that allowed home-schoolers to join public school sports if they met all the qualifications, such as living in the school district, having been home-school for the past three consecutive years and completing all state-required school testing.

Fairfield, Hofer said, is taking it a step farther and requiring interested home-school applicants to take courses in the subjects they’ll be tested in, such as math, language arts and biology.

“If they’re going to make them take those tests and if (the school is) going to be held accountable for the results, we need to be in charge of instruction,” Hofer said.

Though Hofer said there hasn’t been a clamoring of interest from area home-school students since Fairfield announced its decision, he said he’s received a few casual inquiries over the years. He knows there are home-school teams and associations that play all over the country, something that might be more appealing than being confined to the travel limitations of IHSAA sports.

Fairfield football coach Bob Miller hasn’t been approached either, but he says if eligible home-school students do wish to join the football team, “we will welcome them on board.”

Hofer said he has seen home-schooled student-athletes make the jump to public schools, before Fairfield allowed those students to continue being educated at home while playing public school sports.

“We’ve had some kids who had participated in little league baseball,” he said. “They’ve played with these travel baseball teams and they get to know the kids at the school, and they see that these aren’t bad kids. So then they started enrolling in junior high.”

Applications can be found on Fairfield’s athletic website.

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