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Senate Bill 1715 would prohibit school districts from disallowing homeschool students from participating in district interscholastic sports. Under the bill each local board of education would be required all homeschool students participate. Each district would likely create their own policy and/or requirements on how a homeschool student would be permitted to participate.
HSLDA currently is neutral on whether homeschool students should be permitted to participate in interscholastic sports.
01/09/2013 (Senate) Referred to Education Committee
Twenty-four states currently require public schools to allow homeschoolers access to classes or sports if they meet certain requirements. These states include Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming. In New Jersey, Virginia and Wisconsin homeschool student may be able to participate in classes or sports but they don’t have a right to do so. In both Arizona and Oregon, the law only requires school districts to allow access to “interscholastic activities.” Yet the effect of the laws in these two states generally allows homeschoolers to participate in any activities they choose.
Despite these laws, equal access to homeschoolers is not offered without some strings attached. Although specific requirements vary from state to state, homeschool students can typically participate in public school programs only if certain requirements are met. First, the student must be in compliance with the state homeschool law. Second, the student must meet the same eligibility requirements as a public school student. Finally, the state requires the student to verify that he or she is passing his or her core subjects. Consequently, the homeschooler may be required to provide achievement test scores or periodic academic reports, even if the state’s homeschool statute does not otherwise require them.
Do parents have the right to choose the amount of public education their children receive? Although the courts have said “no,” the state legislatures are beginning to say “yes.” Courts do not find any “right” for homeschoolers to receive access to government funded educational services. State legislators, however, seem open to allowing homeschoolers the privilege of access to public school activities.
Part of the reason for this trend is financial. School districts in some areas are beginning to feel a decrease in funds due to the increasing number of students leaving public schools for private and home education. Schools may try to compete with private education by luring those students back with sports and academic classes, in order to regain at least partial funding for those students.
The access trend is not without potential hazards. Access supporters must remember to guard the right of parents to remain free from extraneous government regulation when they receive no government services. Despite both legal and political controversies, opening access to homeschoolers appears to be a growing trend.
For more information on equal access, please see our memorandum.
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