NJ homeschooled teen can’t join HS sports under district policy
MILLBURN — A teenager still can't join the public high school wrestling or football team after the township Board of Education declined to change its policy that restricts homeschooled students from taking part in interscholastic sports.
The Friederichsen family had publicized the issue on social media, ahead of a Board of Education meeting Monday, where 15-year-old Hunter Friederichsen spoke on his own behalf in a video clip posted to Facebook by his dad, Donny Friedrichsen:
The teen's mother, Kim Friederichsen, said on her own Facebook page Tuesday morning that she was “proud of our son and the Millburn wrestlers, parents, and other community members who showed up and spoke on behalf of letting our homeschooled son play. We are humbled by the support.”
In the same post, she added: “Still processing the actions and attitude of our board who made it very clear at the onset of the meeting that appeals, reconsiderations, and answering our questions are not an option for them. It was sad to speak and yet feel stonewalled from the moment we entered the meeting."
The family moved to the township six years ago and signed up their now-15-year-old son for wrestling, Friederichsen said in a Facebook post on Monday.
At a Board of Education policy committee meeting Oct. 7, the panel voted not to change its existing policy.
"The issue of academic equivalency was the most difficult to address," the board noted in a question-and-answer formatted document released after the meeting.
"While New Jersey does allow homeschoolers to participate in extracurricular activities, it is not a statutory right," according to the statement. "While it is true that there are districts in the state that allow it, most NJ districts do not."
Maplewood-South Orange, Verona and Cedar Grove were all cited by the Friederichsen family as examples of districts that allowed homeschooled students to take part in high school sports.
New Jersey has approximately 200 wrestling chartered clubs across the state, according to the USA Wrestling New Jersey website.
While most clubs are feeder programs for local high schools, other clubs can be sponsored by a local Parks & Recreation Club. The website notes a youth wrestler can join any of the above types of clubs or they can wrestle on their own or "Unattached."
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