Out of School District Students Joining Our Team

Hello all,

Our team is directly affiliated with our high school but has been looking to bring in students from outside of our school district. Our own school has suffered low enrollment lately and thus our team has dropped in numbers dramatically. There are two or three nearby smaller high schools with no FIRST teams. I am on the Booster Club and an active mentor/alumni and plan on presenting the idea of inviting students from the other schools to join our FRC team to our administration. My question is, have any other teams done this?

The main concern I have heard from administrations of the past were liability. Having parents or the other schools provide certificates of liability or something is my best idea to overcome that. Thoughts?

Thanks!

I’ve heard of other multi-school teams, but most of the time it’s from multiple schools within the same district.

That said, here in MN we have a communal practice field available. It’s at an old, closed school in Minneapolis. Before any team can use it, however, they have to have a Certificate of Liability on file, with the Certificate Holder listed as the district that owns the building.

All of this can be impacted by local laws, and I’m not a lawyer. I’d recommend at least talking with one in your area about the liability concerns, to see what they think about the liability issue. That would give you firmer ground when you go to the school board, and give them an actionable path forward, should they decide in your favor.

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In WI there is a team that pulls from multiple high schools (so I’m assuming multiple districts), team 1306 Badgerbots. They’re incredibly helpful and might be the right people to ask about this. I say might be because I don’t believe they have a direct school affiliation like your team does, and I personally am not sure of the differences between a full on communal team or a team that is communal but operates through a high school.

http://www.badgerbots.org/contact-us/

I hope this helps!

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Our former school principal, who is now the assistant superintendent, stated that a student must be enrolled in at least one class to fully participate with the team, but can still attend meetings, if not.

Translation: Don’t bump an enrolled student from a team role (like drive team) for a non-student.

I think the main difference is liability and funding. Our administration in the past has not wanted to allow outside students from 4-H (we used to be a 4-H club) to join because the districts money would be spent on kids not in our school. I’m hoping this doesn’t come off as biting the hand that feeds us. Thank you I will be reaching out to 1306 for sure!

Do you know if that was for liability or funding reasons? Our administration isn’t involved enough with our team to care about specifics like drive team as far as I know.

You didn’t specify if the students are in another district, or homeschooled. We had a couple homeschooled students several years ago, and I think there are some state laws or regulations that allowed them to be part of our team.

But this might not help you…sorry.

My daughter’s team has had kids from different schools on it in the past. The students register for the team through Community Education rather than through the school. My understanding is Community Education is part of the school district but open to anyone wishing to take the classes they offer. So it is set up to take whoever is interested.

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We are a multi-district team. We have students from Aiken County Public Schools in Aiken, SC and Richmond County Public Schools in Augusta, GA and maybe we’re just fortunate because our school/district hasn’t said much or told us we couldn’t do anything. We have every student sign liability forms for the buildings we use and that might be the reason we don’t have any issues.

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Sorry, we have had homeschool students in the past with little reaction from the admin. It is students from other school districts that we now want to reach out to. For instance there are three schools in the county south of us that are too small to have a FIRST team but close enough to drive to our school. I know this is an oddly specific issue and the admin may not even care if we sit down and talk about it.

Is your team a majority of one district or another? Or was it originally students from one district and then brought in more?

We were originally a team for just Aiken County students, but then later allowed students from both districts. We have more Aiken students this year than Richmond County students.

I should also note we have several homeschooled and private schooled students as well on the team. So again, we haven’t been restricted from allowing anyone onto the team.

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Our team is a 2 highschool team from different districts. The original school that founded the team gets paid a very small amount per student from the other school. They also have a liability form that needs to be signed.

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This is something 4513 considered with a couple schools close by. The district (and especially our grants from the OSPI which are big in WA for funing teams) hate any sort of mixed district budgets (red tape im assuming) so that was sadly scrapped quickly.

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166 has had a few students from other schools. We never had any problems with it to my knowledge. If you want, I can put you in contact with another mentor on my team who would know more than I do.

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My inquiry was specifically related to inclusion of homeschool students and there was no mention of liability being a factor. They just didn’t want an enrolled student losing an opportunity to a non-student. For sports it’s more strict than clubs. It’s at least 3 classes, I believe.

In terms of liability, it’s probably no different from any number of the outside organizations who regularly use school facilities for sports activities, meetings, etc…

We currently have a homeschooler and he can do pretty much anything on the team he wants, because we have little or no contention over team roles.

A few of the other area teams have formed nonprofit organizations and tell parents this allows them to recruit anyone they want. I would disagree with this statement and suspect they haven’t discussed this with their building or district administration.

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The answer will vary based on state law and school district policies. Is there a similarly-comprised team in YOUR state that you could contact? That’s where you would find the most useful advice.

Otherwise, take what advice you can, but see if you can find a friendly local lawyer who can help you understand the ground rules you have to fit between. A school administrator who is favorable, but unfamiliar, may take an eternity to get back to you. It helps if you can advise them of the parameters that make things right with the relevant authorities.

Liability is the biggest concern. We were ok when we had kids from other school in the same district, the insurance papers were from school district that covered all the schools. Then we had to submit the liability docs to sponsor as we working in the sponsor shop.

I mean, our team is made up of two different schools from different districts; Hopkinton and John Stark are from different districts. We’ve also had kids from Bow in the past as well which adds a third district to the equation. It’s definitely possible, but I don’t know a lot about the weird backend stuff.

In 2016, there was a kid from another school that wanted to do robotics and we were the only team. His school was about 30 mins away. Went to St. Louis that year. Came back, started their own team at their school. I do not know the specifics.