Students who transfer to virtual charter schools can’t play for the home (school) team

    Palmyra-Eagle sports fields (photo by Ruth Conniff)
    Palmyra-Eagle sports fields (photo by Ruth Conniff)

    On Friday Gov. Tony Evers vetoed Senate Bill 39, which would have allowed virtual charter school students to play sports in their public school districts.

    In a letter explaining his veto, Evers said he objects to the way the bill undermined local decision-making by school boards regarding who may participate in interscholastic athletics and other extracurricular activities.

    “While a resident school district can enforce standards and expectations for its own students who participate in such activities, the resident school district would not be able to do the same for non-resident charter schools, as it would have no information regarding the pupil’s school attendance or academic performance.”

    Furthermore, Evers added, the bill ignores an important difference in the way school funding works between homeschooled students who can, by law, participate in sports and other extracurriculars in their resident public school district, and students who attend virtual charter schools outside the district, whose resident school districts must pay an open-enrollment fee to the virtual charter. 

    The bill Evers vetoed suggested that school districts could recoup the costs of allowing virtual charter students to play sports by charging athletic fees. But, Evers wrote, “Fees a resident school district might collect for interscholastic athletics and extracurricular activities are insufficient to cover the full cost of participation, particularly when you factor in such open enrollment payments.”

    Also, Evers added, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association voted 334 to 52 not to allow students attending nonresident virtual charter schools to play sports in their resident districts. 

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    Ruth Conniff
    Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine where she worked for many years from both Madison and Washington, DC. Shortly after Donald Trump took office she moved with her family to Oaxaca, Mexico, and covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Trump. Conniff is a frequent guest on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, CNN, Fox News and many other radio and television outlets. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. She graduated from Yale University in 1990, where she ran track and edited the campus magazine The New Journal. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and three daughters.