Bill would give Fla. private school students more choice in sports

The Florida House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee unanimously passed HB 1109, allowing students at private schools to participate in sports at a public school of their choice based on their school district’s open enrollment policy.

The bill would expand extracurricular options for private school students.

Existing laws allow students attending private middle or high schools that are not members of the Florida High School Athletics Association, and that have fewer than 125 students, to participate in interscholastic sports at their zoned public schools.

Rep. Bruce Antone, D-Orlando, introduced the bill to the subcommittee, which approved the bill without debate.

The state already has a “Tim Tebow” law that allows homeschool students — as well as students enrolled in charters or other schools of choice — to sign up for teams at their zoned public school, or other public schools they would otherwise attend. The goal of the law is to give students in educational choice programs access to extracurriculars that might not otherwise be available.

This year’s legislation is the latest in a series of efforts to adapt high school athletics and extracurricular activities to the growth of school choice programs. In a similar vein, a bill filed by Byron Donalds, a freshman Republican from Naples, would have allowed Florida’s charter school students to play sports or take part in the other extracurricular activities at private schools. However, it was withdrawn before the start of the legislative session.

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