The debate to participate came to an end in the House, for now.
On a 28-38 vote, members of the House defeated House Bill 1120, which permits students receiving alternative instruction be deemed academically eligible by complying with alternative instruction requirements and allowed to participate in activities sponsored by the SDHSAA, on Monday.
The House’s vote came a week after multiple legislative moves that resulted in extensive time in the spotlight for the bill. Initially, HB 1120 was defeated on a 9-5 vote by the House Education committee following a bill hearing that extended over two days, nearly two weeks ago. It was then “smoked-out” on the House floor last week and delayed further a day later following Joint Rule 5-17 being invoked.
When all came to a head on Monday (2/11) a lengthy discussion, which featured multiple proponents expressing their support for the bill and a handful of opponents voicing their concerns, followed.
“The bill is saying your local communities’ decisions don’t count,” Rep. Mike Stevens said while speaking against the bill on the floor.
“Each district should be able to make its own decision.”
Rep. Stevens’ sentiment was shared by ASBSD in our opposition of the bill.
“We need to let school boards carry out their local authority,” ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany testified during the bill’s committee hearing on Wednesday (1-31).
Opportunity was on the minds of proponents of the bill with many arguments centering around the chance the homeschool students deserved to participate despite not being enrolled in the public school.
“I think we owe it to the students of South Dakota, not to provide equal rights, but provide equal opportunity,” Rep. Larry Rhoden said in favor of the bill on Monday (2/12).
Rep. Tim Johns debated the option for opportunity being provided as he viewed the bill permitting homeschool students to participate in activities without having to match the academic eligibility requirements placed on their public school peers.
“The premise is just wrong,” Rep. Johns said, adding that participating in activities is “not a right, it’s a privilege.”
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