(5-17-23) Public school student-athletes will be denied the same opportunity that private school and home schooled student-athletes already have.
For the 2nd time in two years the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) member schools have voted down the option to allow a public school student-athlete to compete at a bordering public school who offers a sport not offered at their current school.
Example: Celina offers girls soccer, neighboring Mercer County schools Parkway and Marion Local do not. Had rule 1B passed those girls would have the opportunity to compete at Celina.
1B failed this year by 53 votes out of a total of 801 member schools voting, the first time the issue was voted down by just 13 votes out of 799. The OHSAA does not release how individual member schools vote during a referendum.
With open enrollment allowed in Ohio to give students an opportunity to move from their home district to another district…the voted down 1B would seem to be a viable option and in step with open enrollment.
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From the OHSAA press release on the voting results—
Issue 1B, which would have permitted a student enrolled at a public school that does not sponsor a team sport to potentially play that sport at a public school located in a bordering public school district, failed for a second consecutive year by a margin of 427 to 374 (13 abstained). The margin was significantly greater than the 2022 vote which failed by 13 votes (406 to 393), the closest vote in documented OHSAA history.
OHSAA Executive Director Doug Ute
“Last year, the conversation was dominated by the NIL proposal, which didn’t pass and had no momentum or requests to return to the referendum ballot this year.With that topic on hold, Issue 1B was the primary focus this year and our office worked diligently to listen to our schools after last year’s close vote and tweak the proposed language to add additional safeguards and ease some concerns. We are pleased with the dialogue and discussions which took place during this voting period.”
ISSUE 1B – ADD EXCEPTION TO BYLAW 4-3-1 (PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS PLAYING FOR NEIGHBORING DISTRICT IF MEMBER SCHOOL DOESN’T OFFER SPORT)
This proposed new exception, which failed by a close margin by the membership last year (13 votes), would have permitted a student enrolled at a member public high school that does not sponsor a team sport in which the student desires to participate to petition to play that sport at a public school located in a bordering public school district but only if the bordering district’s Board of Education would have adopted a resolution permitting such participation, and if the Superintendent of the school the student attends agreed to allow the participation. Reciprocal language was developed for students in a multiple high school district. An OHSAA form would have been needed to be utilized and, if approved by a Board of Education.
FAILED 427 to 374 (13 abstained
Public school students do not have the same opportunity as a private school or home schooled student-athlete.
Presently private schools already have the option if their school does not offer a sport to compete at a public school. home schooled students can compete at a public school.
Below are the guidelines.
From the OHSAA — Where are students who attend non-public schools in Ohio eligible to participate if their school does not offer a specific sport?
A student who attends a non-public school in Ohio, whose parents reside in Ohio, shall have a participation opportunity – not a guarantee – at the public school the student is entitled to attend pursuant to ORC 3313.64 or 3313.65. A student who attends a non-public school may also have a participation opportunity at the public school located in the school district in which the non-public school is located (if different than the residential district) subject to the mutual agreement between the superintendent of the school district in which the student is entitled to attend and the superintendent of the school district in which the student is seeking to participate. Of course, this participation opportunity applies ONLY if his/her non-public school does not sponsor the specific sport. The student must be eligible in all other aspects (scholarship, age, transfer, semesters, etc.). If the public school in either the parents’ district of residence or in the district where the non-public school is located does not offer the sport, then the student simply has no participation opportunity.
From the OHSAA — Are home-educated students living in our school district eligible for athletics at our public school?
Yes, but first you want to make sure the student is indeed home-educated by confirming with the superintendent of the public-school district in which the student’s family resides that the student has been excused from compulsory attendance. This will also confirm that the family resides in your district and you will be able to determine the grade in school, which is important for tracking semesters of eligibility. The student must be eligible in all other aspects (scholarship, age, transfer, etc.). If the sport that a home educated student wishes to play is not sponsored by the public school in the residential district, the student MAY be permitted to participate at the public school in another school district subject to the sole discretion of that district’s superintendent.