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Governor McAuliffe vetoes 'Tebow Bill'

RICHMOND, Va. (WSET) -- Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill Monday that would allow home-schooled students across the commonwealth to play high school sports.

HB 1578, commonly known as the "Tebow Bill," would have opened interscholastic programs in public schools to home-schooled students, without subjecting those students to the same academic or attendance standards as public school students.

"Allowing home-schooled students to participate in interscholastic competitions would disrupt the level playing field Virginia's public schools have developed over the past century," the Governor said in his veto statement.

The bill was introduced by Del. Rob Bell, R-Charlottesville.

The bill is nicknamed for former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who was allowed to play football for a high school in Florida while he was being home-schooled. Bell has introduced similar legislation each year since 2005.

You can read the Governor’s full veto statement below:

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 1578, which prohibits public schools from joining any organization governing interscholastic programs that does not allow home-schooled students to participate. More than 300 public schools belong to the Virginia High School League (VHSL), an organization through which member schools have regulated interscholastic competition since 1913. Each year over 200,000 public school students, who satisfy the VHSL's 13 individual eligibility requirements, participate in one or more of the league's 27 sports and 11 academic activities.

Allowing home-schooled students to participate in interscholastic competitions would disrupt the level playing field Virginia's public schools have developed over the past century. While the bill provides that home-schooled students must demonstrate evidence of progress in order to participate in interscholastic activities, the unique nature of their educational situation precludes conformity to the same standards.

Virginia's public schools provide a complete package of scholastic offerings and access to extracurricular activities. Participation in athletic and academic competitions is a privilege for students who satisfy eligibility requirements. Opening participation in those competitions to individuals who are not required to satisfy the same criteria codifies academic inequality in interscholastic competition.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

Terence R. McAuliffe

Capital News Service contributed to this report.

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