Per my earlier blog on this issue, Senate Bill 55 is now posted on the state web site. From my reading of the bill, it opens public school extracurricular activities to any public students in the district. So, students attending magnets or charters outside the district or zone can join clubs or teams offered at their home school.
In that sense, it seems to duplicate Senate Bill 34, which allows nonenrolled students in charter or virtual school to participate in extracurricular programs at their local school. The only difference is that SB 34 uses “shall” while SB 55 uses “may.”
SB 34 states: Public school shall allow any nonenrolled student to participate in any extracurricular activity offered or conducted by such public school outside of regular school hours in the same manner as any student currently enrolled at such public school.
But when I called Senate sponsor Renee Unterman’s office for clarification of what seems duplicate intent to me, I was told the bill applies to “any student residing that district.” I asked if that meant homeschooled or private school students, and Unterman’s aide said that it did. That doesn’t sound right to me based on the language of the bill, so I asked the aide to doublecheck and get back to me. When I get the clarification, I will post.
Regardless, this bill and SB 34 raise a slew of questions on liability, responsibility and accountability.
Are the four Senate sponsors of this bill ignoring the fact that many of these after-school activities do not run on tax dollars but on the willingness of teacher and parent volunteers to donate their own time and money to help their students?
Many posters on the first blog on this bill said that as teacher sponsors of clubs they’d be unwilling to take on students from outside their classrooms as they see the clubs as ways of enhancing their bond with their students. Is it fair to ask teachers — most of whom are not paid for their after-school clubs — to donate their time to kids outside of the school?
I have read all the posts on the first blog on this issue, and understand the desire of homeschooling and private school parents to take advantage of the clubs and activities at their local public schools. I remain concerned about the burden on the public schools to sort out this law, if it is passed.
The bill does put some discretion in the hands of the principals to set rules, but only if those principals are in accord with regulations yet to be established by the state Board of Education. It also includes language that the students seeking to join after-school clubs or teams at their local public schools be in good standing at their own schools. (The bill does not make clear whose task it is to check on the student’s standing and keep up with it.)
The Senate sponsors are Unterman, David Shafer, Chip Rogers and Don Balfour.
I have to ask those senators behind this bill: Given the deep cuts to public education funding, given your own constituents’ concerns over how their schools can continue to do more with less, is it a good idea to ask them to take on this new responsibility?
The bill states:
Nonenrolled public school student means a public school student in grades kindergarten through 12 who resides within the attendance zone of a school but who is not enrolled in such school.
A public school may allow any nonenrolled public school student to participate in any extracurricular activity offered or conducted by such public school in the same manner as any student currently enrolled at such public school. A nonenrolled public school student desiring to participate in an extracurricular activity shall register with the principal of the public school, or his or her designee, such intent to participate in extracurricular activities of the public school in accordance with rules and regulations established by the State Board of Education.
The final approval for such participation shall reside in the discretion of the principal in accordance with local board policies, or in accordance with State Board of Education or Georgia Charter Schools Commission policies, for a state chartered special school or a commission charter school, respectively.
In order to be eligible to participate in an extracurricular activity pursuant to this Code 45 section, a nonenrolled public school student shall maintain at his or her school of attendance compliance with all academic and nonacademic rules and requirements governing participation in such extracurricular activity at the public school.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog