J. Michael Smith, Esq.
Michael P. Farris, Esq.
Public School Access for Homeschoolers—A Legal Summary
The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) permits a homeschooled student to participate in public school extracurricular athletics if that student’s parent has filed a notice of intent for that student and has otherwise complied with the requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated § 49-6-3050(b). Other eligibility requirements also apply. (See TSSAA Bylaws, art. II, § 25, page 19.) This does not apply to students who homeschool in association with a church-related school.
If a school is a member of TSSAA, and assuming the student is eligible to participate under TSSAA rules, local schools are prohibited from preventing homeschoolers (who operate under the notice statute) from seeking to participate. See Tennessee Statute §49-6-3050(e), as signed into law April 1, 2013.
TSSAA member schools may “play or scrimmage any secondary school with grades 9 and above in regular season play. For the purposes of this rule, a school team may be one school or a cooperative program of one or more schools.” (See TSSAA Bylaws, art. IV, § 1.) This could include home school cooperative teams and teams from church-related schools. TSSAA member schools may also play or scrimmage individual homeschooled students during the regular season, especially in individual sports such as track and field, wrestling, and golf. (See FAQs on page 54 of the TSSAA Handbook.)