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School reviews its homeschool policy; Parents want activities open to all students

In response to recent questions raised by families that homeschool, the Guilderland Central School District's board of education is looking at updating its policy concerning what public school activities are available to homeschooled students.

Suzanne Quinn, who homeschools her two sons, ages 7 and 8, said she hoped her children would be allow to participate in any extracurricular activities available to public school students, including orchestra, intramural sports and choir.

We understand that homeschooling kids is a choice, and you don't participate in the curricular activities,' said Quinn. It doesn't mean that you signed on to not participate in anything the school district offers."

New York education regulations state that children educated outside public schools may participate in intramural and other school-sponsored club activities. The regulations go on to recommend that each board of education establish a policy to this effect.

Although the Guilderland School District Board of Education policy manual contains a section titled "Relations with 'Home Schools,'" it does not contain any specific regulations regarding the rights of homeschooled students.

"It's very vague and it doesn't answer the questions raised at this point," said Superintendent Greg Aidala. "When the question was asked, we felt it was a good opportunity to review this policy and have some discussion about it."

The current policy, which was adopted June 20, 1995, reads: "The Superintendent of Schools will establish regulations, based upon those of the Commissioner, to inform schools and parents of their respective rights and responsibilities regarding the education of children at home."

Aidala and four board members, Barbara Fraterrigo, John Dornbush, Catherine Barber and Denise Eisele, make up the board of education's policy committee.

"The policy we're working on now is much more specific," said Aidala. "We expect at this time we will finalize the policy this month."

In addition to defining what activities homeschooled students may take part in, the policy will also place restrictions on some activities.

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