Homeschool child denied access to public after-school program

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LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — On a warm, early March day a windmill spins in the Greens’ front yard. Their three dogs are spread out across the grass after finding the perfect spot to bask in the sun.

Isabelle Green, 12, and her brother William, 8, walk out of the creaky wooden screen door on the front porch. School books in hand, they make their way to the porch swing. Their mom, Amanda, sits in the middle, ready to help them study as questions come up.

The siblings get to pick where they want to learn each day. Sometimes they choose the comfy couch in the living room, other times it’s the kitchen table. Occasionally they do school work in bed — it’s a luxury of homeschool life.

The peace and quiet has its perks, but Green also looks other for ways her children can learn new skills and interact with other kids.

Akins Elementary School in Leander (KXAN photo/Erin Cargile)

“[William] is eight years old, and he’s really interested in computers, and robots and coding,” said Green.

She found a program offered after school at Akins Elementary School, less than a mile from their house.

It’s called Coding with Kids and is run by an outside company. Green called the Leander Independent School District to enroll William in the six-week session and pay the $167 fee. That’s when she ran into a problem. She couldn’t sign William up because he’s homeschooled and not enrolled in the district.

“I was shocked he couldn’t enroll,” said Green. “My family supports the district with their tax dollars.”

Coding with Kids website (KXAN photo/Erin Cargile)

According to Green, LISD’s after-school program coordinator gave her several reasons over the phone why William was denied access: he had no vaccination records on file, which Green offered to provide. She was then told, if they let William in he would take away opportunities from other kids in the community who were enrolled in public school.

After asking to speak with the superintendent, Green got an email from LISD’s Chief Communications Officer Corey Ryan.

In the letter, Ryan said even though after-school enrichment is not a University Interscholastic League activity, the district applies the same UIL rules; therefore, only LISD students can participate. Ryan shared the same information in the letter with KXAN.

KXAN reached out to Coding with Kids for more information about its policies for various districts but has not heard back.

Green said she would like to see LISD reconsider its decision for all local parents who pay taxes but do not have children enrolled in the district.

“It doesn’t seem right for the kids here in the community that education should be restricted to anyone,” said Green.

Green did some research and found Round Rock Independent School District was the next closest district that offered the same program. She called RRISD to enroll her son, and said they immediately said “yes.”

“I almost cried because I was so overwhelmed that it was a completely different answer miles apart from each other,” she said.

RRISD confirmed to KXAN they allow all students to enroll in the after-school program, even if they are not RRISD students.

For the Green family, the new location will mean an extra 20 minutes in the car each way, but it’s a drive they are willing to make.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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