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To: House Committee on Education
Rep. Roy Takumi, Chair
Rep. Takashi Ohno, Vice Chair

From: Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
President Keli’i Akina, Ph.D.

RE: HB 2135 — RELATING TO EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
Comments Only

Dear Chair and Committee Members:

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii would like to offer its comments on HB 2135, which would allow home schooled students to participate on an equal basis in extracurricular activities offered at the public school they would otherwise be required to attend.

With this bill, Hawaii would join the increasing number of states that are working to grant equal access to extracurricular and enriching activities to home schooled students. This is a question of fairness, offering education options to parents while ensuring that children still have the opportunity to grow their talents and abilities to the utmost.

According to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, twenty-two states currently require public schools to allow homeschooled students some form of access to classes or sports.[1] While the specific provisions of these laws vary, the state interest is generally served by requiring participating home school students to be in compliance with state homeschooling law and to meet the same requirements (age, academic record, etc.) that a public school student would in order to participate.[2] Because the absence of a state law leaves the decision to allow participation up to individual principals or school districts, an equal access law serves a secondary benefit of creating a fair and equitable approach throughout the state.

It is worth remembering that homeschooling families pay the same taxes to support public education as everyone else and should therefore be able to make use of the public facilities and services that they would otherwise be entitled to. For those who are concerned about the possible effect of an influx of homeschooled students in public school extracurricular activities, it has been found that in states granting equal access, only 3-5% of homeschoolers participate. In short, this is a chance to do something that encourages inclusiveness in the local school community, and is unlikely to include significant costs for the school.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit our comments.

[1] States with equal access laws include Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming.

[2] “Issue Analysis: Equal Access.” Home School Legal Defense Association. (April 1, 2011) Available at http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000000/00000049.asp