July 31, 2014

Easing restrictions on school sports teams

A state lawmaker wants to open up extracurricular activities at public schools to all students living in a district.

The bill from state Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) would require public schools to allow any student in their community to join sports teams and other activities, regardless of what school they attend. The change would mean many home-schooled students, along with those at some charter and private schools, would be able to try out for public school sports teams.

Students would not be allowed to join a team if they attend a school that already has a similar active program.

Even if those students don’t attend the public school, Thiesfeldt contends that the families are still paying the taxes that support it. He says no child should be denied a chance to participate simply because they made a different choice for their education.

AUDIO: Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (:19)

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, a private organization, is actually the body that requires students to attend the school they compete for. The Legislature has no control over the WIAA’s policies, although Thiesfeldt addresses that issue by simply prohibiting schools from making an agreement with an organization that bars non-enrolled students from teams. The WIAA did not return a message seeking comment on the legislation.

The bill is currently being circulated at the Capitol for co-sponsors.