Riley & Diegnan Bill to Allow Students Taught in Non-School Settings, Charter or Vocational Schools to Play Interscholastic Sports Advanced by Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Celeste Riley and Assembly Education Chairman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. to allow students who attend charter or vocational schools or receive equivalent instruction other than at school to play sports in the school district where they live was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee.

“The benefits of playing sports are not just physical. Sports teach discipline, responsibility and comradeship, and can help young people academically and socially,” said Riley (D- Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “There is no reason why students who attend charter or vocational schools or get their education in a non-school setting should be denied the same benefits.”

“All school age children should be given the opportunity to participate in sports. Sports teach kids about teamwork, achieving goals, the value of hard work and preparation,” said Diegan (D-Middlesex). Charters and vocational Schools are public schools after all. Young people who attend them should have the same access to sports as other public school students.”

The bill (A-3421) requires school districts to allow students who receive equivalent instruction other than at school, and students who attend charter schools or county vocational schools to participate in interscholastic sports programs in the student’s resident district in accordance with the same criteria established for students enrolled in the district.

Under the bill, a student who receives equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school who wishes to compete in school-sponsored interscholastic athletics in his resident district must:

  • provide proof that he resides in the district;
  • meet the sports participation requirements established by the school district for students enrolled in the district such as physical examinations, insurance, age, academic, and other requirements. The student must comply with the same standards of behavior, responsibilities, and performance as all other members of the team or squad;
  • meet the eligibility rules of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA);
  • demonstrate to the board of education that he is receiving an academically equivalent education compared to students enrolled in the school district and that he is academically qualified to participate; and
  • demonstrate to the board of education that he did not transfer to an equivalent instructional program for athletic advantage.

Under the bill, a charter school student or county vocational school student may try out for, and participate in, a school-sponsored interscholastic athletics team or squad in the student’s district of residence if the charter school or county vocational school, respectively, does not sponsor an interscholastic sports team or squad in the sport in which the student wishes to participate. A charter school student or county vocational school student who wishes to compete on an interscholastic sports team or squad in his resident district must:

  • provide proof that he resides in the district;
  • meet the sports participation requirements established by the school district for students enrolled in the district and comply with the same standards as all other members of the team or squad;
  • meet the eligibility rules of the NJSIAA; and
  • demonstrate to the board of education that he did not transfer to a charter school or county vocational school, respectively, for athletic advantage.

The bill was released by the Assembly Education Committee.