Although many schools have swimming facilities, playgrounds, baseball fields, outdoor basketball courts, and fields for playing baseball, softball and soccer, only 12 states have statutes that might provide limited liability protections specific to activities performed on these facilities. The concern for most institutions is whether or not their school insurance provides the depth of coverage necessary for active recreational activities likely to occur on school property after hours. This also applies to insurance for public schools in Indiana.
Indiana adopts law allowing home-schooled students to participate in public school activities
The Indiana High School Athletic Association has adopted a bylaw that will allow home-schooled student athletes to play for their local public high school, according to the Times of Northwest Indiana. The bill has been passed in several other states (Virginia shot down a similar measure), and is commonly referred to as the “Tim Tebow” bill. It’s named after the former Nease (Florida) star quarterback who was home-schooled throughout high school.
Encouraging physical activity is vital to positive health outcomes and is a worthwhile public health goal. A review of the recreational use statues in all 50 states has found that liability protections could be improved, in some cases, with minor legislative changes, consequently opening up school facilities for increased recreational use benefiting the entire community.
Although the importance of recreation cannot be ignored, the legislative intent of recreational user legislation should be reframed to include, as a stated purpose, the health promotion of communities. In addition, public schools likely have facilities that can help meet the physical activity needs of their surrounding community.
Despite the benefits to the health and physical activity needs of the community, a number of barriers continue to exist in allowing public access to school facilities, including liability, insurance, safety, supervision, operations, and maintenance. While public school insurance in Indiana offers protection to some degree, the concern over liability should always factor into whether or not to allow public access to school property.