Bill would let virtual charter students play public school sports


images-18By Paige Clark

INDIANAPOLIS – A Republican-backed bill could allow Hoosiers attending virtual charter schools to participate in sports in their local districts.

House Bill 1047 – authored by Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour – passed the House and was heard in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. The committee did not vote.

The bill only applies to students attending virtual charter schools, which are generally web-based with limited in-person interaction.

The bill would also restrict students to playing for schools in their residential districts.

Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, said the bill simply allows virtual charter school students to try out for their local district’s sports teams.

Stacy Wyatt, a mother of two Indiana Connections Academy Students, said choosing a virtual school was a decision she made for her kids academically; her children focus better with online virtual schools because of their attention deficit disorder.

Both her children plan to participate in high school sports, in soccer and swimming.

But Brent Decay, principal of Brownsburg High School, said there are plenty of programs that high schools offer to help all students academically.

Decay also said that if kids want to play sports they should be under the same restrictions – grade stipulation, school rules, curriculum – as the other students participating in that sport.

“Families make a choice when they go to a virtual charter. They know the services available to them and know the consequences,” said Roni Embry, a lobbyist for the Indiana State Teachers Association. “Public schools students do not have the choice to go shopping around and it sends the wrong message.”

Lucas said the bill should “not be this difficult.”

“All this bill does is gives these children the opportunity to try out for a local sports teams. If they don’t meet any requirements that the coach asks for them…these kids can be kicked off,” said Lucas. “Try out and give them the opportunity to play by the rules of every other child.”

Paige Clark is a reporter for, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.