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SUE BEE

Filed at 1:15 am under by dcobranchi

This one’s kind of strange. Home educators in Avon Grove, PA (just across the border from Wilmington, DE) are threatening to sue the school district if they do not allow HEKs to participate in the local spelling bee. The point of argument seems to be over whether or not the spelling bee is part of the curriculum or an extracurricular activity.

What confuses me, though, is that the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee rules clearly state that the local sponsor (usually a local newspaper) has “complete autonomy” on how it allows HEKs to participate. But none of the suggested structures include HEKs entering the initial classroom level bees.

What if my local sponsor tells me that home-schooled students cannot participate?

Your local sponsor is mistaken. Chances are good that your local sponsor has little or no experience with home schools. With some friendly intervention from the national office, we can turn that sponsor’s no into a yes. All sponsors sign a sponsorship contract with the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee. That contract clearly specifies that the sponsor “hereby agrees to sponsor a spelling bee program for all schools, public, private, parochial, and home in the following counties . . . ” Attached to the contract are names of the counties that fall within the sponsor’s area of responsibility. If you reside in one of these counties and meet the other eligibility requirements, you can participate. However, please keep in mind that a local sponsor may turn anyone away if the local spelling bee program deadlines have passed.

How do most local sponsors work with home schools?

The local sponsor has complete autonomy to determine how home schools participate in its spelling bee program. Because every sponsor and its community is different, there are several different participation/qualification structures. If you do not participate within your sponsor’s designated qualification structure, you are not eligible. If the issue of home schooling is new to your local sponsor, you may want to take the initiative in suggesting a qualification structure for home-schooled students in your area.

What is a qualification structure?

A qualification structure pinpoints how any child in a sponsored area may advance from the initial level (home school or classroom) to the national finals. The local sponsor is responsible for setting the qualification structure.

Here are some examples of qualification structures for public, private, and parochial school students:

1. classroom, grade, school, county, local sponsor’s final spelling bee, Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee
2. classroom, school, district, local sponsor’s final spelling bee, Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee
3. classroom, school, local sponsor’s final spelling bee, Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee

Here are some examples of qualification structures for home-schooled students:

1. home school spelling bee among siblings and/or relatives, home school association spelling bee, local sponsor’s final spelling bee, Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee
2. home school association spelling bee, local sponsor’s final spelling bee, Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee
3. home school association spelling bee, county, local sponsor’s final spelling bee, Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee

Suing the school district might serve little or no purpose if the local sponsor has set up a structure that allows HEKs to enter (say through a co-op or support group).

HSLDA may be threatening to sue for other reasons (like to establish precedent), but if the goal is really to get the girl into the bee, I don’t think they have much hope. [H/T: Carole]

2 Responses to “SUE BEE”


Comment by
Valerie
January 26th, 2007
at 2:50 pm

In Illinois, the ‘bee organizers’ (apparently the school isn’t the sponsor), have just added a homeschool division.

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Comment by
Pauline
January 26th, 2007
at 9:24 pm

Daryl – this is a case of an AP story being shortened, and in the process important information being removed, making for an article that leaves you going “huh?”.

Here’s the scoop – PA got an “equal access” bill last year, which says, essentially, that HEKs can participate in public school extracurriculars. Thus the argument is over whether the bee is an extracurricular or not – if it is, they have to let her participate. It really doesn’t have much of anything at all to do with the bee’s rules.

Meghan participated at the local public school last year AND WON – she went to the final round of the county bee, too. This year, they decided that she could not participate in the bee at the school (or in another individual-against-individual word-type contest), but they WOULD let her on their team for a team-against-team event. (So they’re OK with her if she’s helping them win, but not if she’s showing them up.)

Last night, the board voted to “make an exception” and let Meghan compete. There was considerable community support for Meghan – their family is *very* nice and not the looking-for-conflict sort *at all*.

There are a couple of good Inquirer articles about this – see the link above (click on “Pauline”) for links to the articles and more background.