No More Roadblocks Allow Brandon & other private umbrella school students to play sports!

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Florida Private School Students don't want to choose between academics and athletics anymore. It is important for every child's growth and development to have a combination of education and athletics. Athletics should be available to students without roadblocks because of the the child's unique enrollment.

We are seeking your support and requesting a change of the rules so more private school students are allowed to participate in athletics in their zoned school.

Private school students (more specifically private schools that do not have buildings nor athletics) are constrained by numbers that are inconsistent with today's current educational options.

The section cited for this change is to remove the threshold of s. 1006.15 (8)(a-g), F.S (specifically g), Which states;  Only students who are enrolled in non-FHSAA member private schools consisting of 125 students or fewer are eligible to participate in the program in any given academic year.

This restriction mainly hinders children that are entering the high school level who age out of most of the community and private sports. Typically, children at this age begin sports at their own High School leaving few options for non traditional students.

Due to many private schools being open to all of Florida, the number of students are high as a result. These numbers does not necessarily reflect the amount of students within one county, city or locality. Unfortunately, all the numbers count for levels. In other words, if the (private school) student wishes to participate in a traditional high school with grades 9 – 12, then the private school must not have more than 125 students, combined, in grades 9 –12.

So for example, if you have a private school, (not brick & mortar) with 6,000 children enrolled in 9-12th grade and these students are scattered all throughout Florida, your child would ineligible for their own zoned schools athletics.... a school they can technically go to. Yet they can not participate because they have a unique setting and a different way of learning.

As we know, parents have the right to choose the best setting for their children's education. It is a personal decision and their right.

A brief, general description of a private "umbrella" school option is a student being registered or enrolled under a private school but education is within the "home life" (online, community or combination) and under the parents direction. Essentially, the school is "invisible". Parents have the freedom to choose what method works best or use a variety of methods for their child or children with this option.

My son struggles with Tourette's and ASD. He struggled in various educational settings so I opted to enroll under the private "umbrella" school a few years ago. He has flourished academically and he is very athletically motivated.

This umbrella school has no walls and like many other "invisible" schools, sports are not offered.

Currently, traditional students (those enrolled in public school) and home schoolers (those registered with the county), can participate in activities. As well as some private schools including "umbrella" and charter schools provided they follow seemingly outdated rules. The specific restriction is the cap of 125 students making them ineligible to participate, as stated above.   It is this restriction that excludes children such as, my son. Although he struggles with his conditions, when I mentioned he is athletically motivated it is because he loves exercising and some sports he was involved with include baseball, soccer, dodgeball and volleyball. His current sports are Tae Kwon Do, flag football and a running series.

The restriction mentioned is a state statute and the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) must enforce these rules.

Again, we do not want to be forced to change nor choose between the best setting for education or be limited in athletic choices.

Please lend us your support so my son and his peers are not excluded any longer. The zoned schools they could have been attending anyway (but choose a different style of learning and setting) are not at a disadvantage with a rule change but for now they are missing out on additional talent!

We can make a difference with your support!

Private "umbrella" students and families seek the support of the community and other important influences including Senator Dorothy Hukill, Representative David Santiago, the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) including their Association's Public Liaison Advisory Committee. There are many more who have the influence to make a change and come up with a better solution which would allow our children to be even more supported, athletically.

Thank you.