Virginia High School League opens doors to private institutions

The Virginia High School League will now allow private school members, a first in the organization’s 90-year history.

VHSLThe change is the result of a lawsuit filed by Liberty Christian Academy, a private school that applied for membership three times over the last nine years only to be denied each time. The school’s superintendent, John Patterson, told the Washington Post the athletic programs have few competitors in the area, and they wanted the ability to “find games within a reasonable square mileage.”

From the Washington Post:

The VHSL’s decision applies only to non-boarding schools. Maryland and Texas are now the only states that fully segregate private and public schools in athletics.

“As part of the agreement, we tried to take the position that if a school wants to belong to our organization then it ought to comply with our rules and regulations,” VHSL Executive Director Ken Tilley said in a phone interview. “There are certain inherent differences between private and public schools that we tried to address, and the ultimate result was one we felt would protect the integrity of our rules.”

Based on his talks with school officials and media around the state, Tilley expects “few, if any, will follow suit” with Liberty Christian, citing reasons similar to the ones given by John Green, the athletic director at fellow Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association member Christ Chapel.

Comments made by superintendents and other athletics officials suggest recruiting is why public schools have issues with private institutions competing at their level.

The article notes that other changes were made in the VHSL handbook, including transfer rules, attendance zones and classification policies. VHSL transfer rules will not apply if a student transferring to a member private school attended a non-member school for at least the previous calendar year, according to the Post.

Click here to read the complete story from the Washington Post.

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