State Representative Robert McColley (R-Napoleon) has announced the passage of HB 441 from the Ohio House last week, a bill that he introduced in support of St. Mary’s School in Leipsic.

Located just across the street from Leipsic Local Schools, St. Mary’s Catholic School is very well integrated with Leipsic; they even share a cafeteria. Although many St. Mary’s students live in the Pandora-Gilboa Local School District, most St. Mary’s students plan on open-enrolling in Leipsic High School upon their graduation from St. Mary’s, a K-8 school. 

Still, the parents of these students have been in discussions with the Ohio High School Athletic Association for years, and have been told repeatedly that these students cannot play sports at Leipsic while attending St. Mary’s, even if the administration at both Pandora-Gilboa and Leipsic mutually agree. Instead they must travel all the way back to their home district, Pandora, which can take up to a half hour by bus.

“House Bill 441 would establish a completely permissive method for students’ circumstances to be evaluated locally and on an individual basis to determine what is best for the student,” McColley said. “It just doesn’t seem right for there to be an outright ban on participation, even when a student has grown up as part of a community, participated in youth sports in that community, and plans on open-enrolling at that community’s high school.”

In the hopes of fixing this issue once and for all, Representative McColley introduced HB 441, which would allow non-public school students to play sports at either their home school district or at the district in which their non-public school was located as long as the following apply:

1) The specific sport is not offered at their non-public school
2) Both the superintendent of their home school district and the superintendent of the district in which their non-public school is located consent
3) The student has not played a sport at their home district in the same year that they are seeking to play a sport in the district in which their non-public school is located and vice versa. This would be verified by the superintendents.

The bill was heard on the House floor on Wednesday and passed by a vote of 76-21. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

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