Garfield wrestles with policy for home schoolers, activities

By Heather Deeley Record-Courier staff writer Published:

"You say in your election speeches that you want to be a voice for the community," Jeff Torda, high school athletic director, said to the board. "I think you'd better find out what they want. I haven't heard one person in favor of this."

Board president Mike Cooper, who is against the resolution, said the board's vote might not exactly reflect the desires of the community.

"I can't personally poll the community, and I believe that each of the board members has to vote from the heart, not by what the majority wants," Cooper said.

The board will vote on the resolution at 7:30 p.m., July 23 in the middle school library.

Board member Gary Twardzik said he understood some of the reservations expressed by the community.

"I appreciate what you're saying, but I predict, if everyone is against it now, a few years down the road this will be common everywhere," he said. "No one will raise an eyebrow at it. Years ago, it would have been out of the question for a black man to play baseball _ until Jackie Robinson came along. Now no one thinks a thing of it."

Still, some stood firmly against the issue.

"If the environment in (public) school is not what you want for your kid, won't extracurricular activities produce the same environment?" asked Garfield football coach Craig Morgan. "I've heard the 14-, 15-, 16-year-olds in the locker room."

But a home school student's father said that influence was not his concern.

"The influence (public school students) will have a couple hours a day over my son in the locker room is not so much my worry," Roy Dew of Garrettsville said. "It's that special interest groups handcuff teachers from being able to teach morals."

Others are concerned with discipline policies and how they would apply to home-schooled children.

"Is the board willing to change the current policy when disciplinary actions arise at an extracurricular activity?" a school employee said. "I am concerned about the fairness to the students at Garfield."

More questions arose when the legality of the resolution's language was addressed. If voted in, the policy would include home-schooled children, while excluding parochial and private school children.

"We will seek legal opinion (on changing the wording) before the next meeting," Superintendent Charles Klamer said.

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