Father fights for home-schooled son to join Maine West High School wrestling team

December 2, 2013

That father says even though his son is taught at home, he still pays property taxes. And because of that, his son should be allowed to wrestle for Maine West High School.

Fifteen-year-old Nick Peterson has been home-schooled all this life. His teacher since kindergarten is his mother.

"He's a very good student, and he's showing that. He's learning things that I did not learn when I was 15," said Kim Peterson, mother.

"My favorite subject is argument-building, which is like formulating speeches and rhetoric," said Nick Peterson, home-schooled student.

Peterson also enjoys wrestling, and for the past three years has been in a club league.

"This is what I've been training for for three years. I love wrestling, and I've been looking forward to doing it in high school," said Nick Peterson.

But his parents say after a week with the Maine West wrestling team, school officials said their son could no longer participate. The school cited IHSA rules that say high school athletes: "must be enrolled at the member high school" and "must be taking and passing a minimum of twenty-five credit hours."

Those same rules, however, say the final determination for participation in sports is up to local districts.

ABC7's Eric Horng asks: "You made the decision to home school. Are you trying to have your cake and eat it, too?"

"We pay our taxes. I pay $1,200 every year, directly to Maine Township, it goes to," said Chris Peterson, father.

On Monday night, the Petersons took their case to the Maine Township school board.

"I believe it's discrimination, and it doesn't benefit anybody," said Chris Peterson.

Administrators declined an interview, but in a statement said their policy "is by no means an unusual stance; District 207's policy mirrors the policy of many or most other districts."

"I would really appreciate if they could work something out, so I could participate. It would mean a lot to me," said Nick Peterson.

At least 11 states prohibit by law school districts from barring home-schooled students from extracurricular activities, but Illinois is not one of them. Chris Peterson says school officials have told him they will meet later this month to discuss the issue.

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