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Capitol Briefs: House approves homeschooler activity measure

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri House perfected a bill that would allow home-schooled students to participate in public school activities — with hefty penalties for institutions that violate it. 

HB 494 from Rep. Josh Hurlbert would restrict foundation formula funding for schools associated with statewide groups that prohibit homeschoolers from participating in their activities. An amendment attached by Hurlbert would also require students to attend two or more classes related to the activity — such as band, drama, or weightlifting classes — in order to participate. The bill was perfected Tuesday morning. 

Members on the other side of the aisle passionately opposed the bill on the floor; Democratic Rep. Maggie Nurrenbern, an educator, said the bill was a drastic overreach.

“Missouri is unique in our constitution in terms of the protection that we get with public education,” Nurrenbern said. “Applying a penalty that’s essentially penalizing schools for not following all of these provisions when our kids can already participate in activities and sports. … Should our homeschool kids be able to participate in school activities? Absolutely. Not with this penalty provision.”

  • The bill passed the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education last month by a vote of 13-7.
  • Parents of home-schooled students testified in favor of the bill in committee, arguing that they paid taxes in the community and the bill would promote equality for home-schooled students. 
  • Representatives from Family Covenant Ministries and the Missouri Alliance For Arts Education testified for informational purposes, raising concerns over the discipline of homeschoolers by teachers and the complexity of the issue.