New bill aims to include displaced military children in school - DatelineCarolina

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Military children could get exemption from H.S. League residency rules

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By Chelsey Seidel
Edited by Frankie Mansfield

The children of military parents would get a special break so they could continue playing sports at S.C. schools under a bill headed to the full state Senate.

"The bill attempts to address the situation where members of the military are deployed and run into problems moving their kids around," said Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, sponsor of the bill approved unanimously by the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.  

Martin introduced the bill after a 15-year-old high school student was blocked from playing on Easley High School's junior varsity football team because he lived with his grandparents in Easley instead of with his parents in California.

The boy had been living in Fayetteville, N.C., while his father was stationed at Fort Bragg. When his father was transferred to a base in California, the student moved in with his grandparents in Easley to avoid moving across the country, Martin said.

But the South Carolina High School League refused to let the boy play football because its rules tightly restrict what is a legitimate change of residence.

"Military families sacrifice a lot, and we don't need to ask them to skirt high school league rules when they're trying to do what's best for their child," Martin said.

League Commissioner Jerome Singleton said he was aware of the bill and that there were concerns this legislation could be abused by school districts trying to recruit students from other areas.

Martin, however, said he didn't see families abusing a change.

"It's not fair to the children to say, ‘No, we're not going to let you do this because your parents decided to serve your country,'" Martin said.


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