Home-Schooled Student Fights to Wrestle at Maine West High

A home-schooled Des Plaines teenager is taking his fight off the wrestling mat in an attempt to compete for Maine West High School.

Fifteen-year-old Nick Peterson lives just minutes away from the school, but even though the Illinois High School Association allows local schools to decide whether to let home schoolers compete, Maine West officials have said no.

The school district says it has a policy prohibiting participation in extra-curricular activities by home-schooled students, the exception being when that activity is part of a district course the student it taking.

Nick's dad, Chris, brought the issue up at Monday night's school board meeting.

"We are hoping we can show them the benefits of home schoolers being part of the school district," Chris Peterson said.

Chris Peterson says if they need to pay a fee to enroll at the school, they'll pay it. He's also willing to show the school Nick's home school curriculum.

Chris Peterson also said he’s paying taxes for his family to use the school.

“They’ll let my son go to the school and learn.  They’ll let him take drivers ed and other classes there, but they won’t let him do sports.  I just don’t understand that,” Chris Peterson said.
Nick only weighs 100 pounds, which would make him an in-demand addition to any wrestling team.

"I started in 6th grade and this is the first year I'm going for the high school team," Nick says. "I'm hoping that my dad and the school district can work something out that I will be able to wrestle."

The school board will discuss the issue at a policy meeting later this month.

The Illinois High School Association leaves it up to individual schools to allow home-school participation in interscholastic athletics.  However, the IHSA does list five requirements for any student, including home-schooled, to be eligible for sports at its member high schools.

The first is that a student must be enrolled at the IHSA member school.  The student must also be taking and passing 25 credit hours of work at a member school or in a program approved by the member school on a weekly and semester basis.  The student must be granted credit toward graduation by the member school.

“Those are the kinds of complicated matters that have been taken into consideration in District 207’s policy prohibiting extracurricular participation by home-schooled students,” said David Berry, the director of communications for Maine Township High School District 207.

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