Equal Access Laws for Homeschoolers

One heated issue in homeschooling is whether or not homeschoolers should be allowed equal access to public school’s “extras”. Should a home schooled student get to use the local school’s computer lab, or library? Should they have the right to text books or AP classes if they choose to use them? Many schools and districts allow this sharing of materials with homeschoolers, even if there are no state laws that mandate them to do so. However, the debate heats up when people start talking about extra curricular activities. Should home schooled students be allowed to play sports on school teams or what about join the debate team or chess club?

Proponents of Equal Access Legislation point out that homeschooling families pay taxes to support public schools. Many families feel that their children miss out on opportunities, particularly in the area of athletics, because they don’t have a chance to play. This would apply to students who are gifted athletes for example, that can’t get “scouted” by a college because they’re not playing.

I am likely in a minority as a homeschooling parent but I am not generally in favor of allowing home schooled students access to public school resources. Homeschooling, like private school, is a choice. Every schooling choice comes with pros and cons and I feel like homeschoolers need to find other ways to get what they need rather than turning to the public school. Using public school resources comes with strings attached that can affect the entire homeschooling community. There are enough resources out there now that homeschoolers can have access to necessary materials without going through the public school for them.

Something that many homeschooling families do not realize is that the decision to play on a sports team (or other interscholastic team) is not as much a school or district decision as it is a league decision. Every team that plays in a league has guidelines that it must adhere to, otherwise it can’t play in the league. Some guidelines include eligibility for four years (so if there is a 5th year senior, he generally cannot play), certain GPA, etc. Athletic leagues keep these rules so that the competitions stay fair, and for the safety of all students involved.

Homeschooling families should also remember that if they were allowed to play on a public school team, they must meet eligibility requirements which would likely include additional testing or other means to determine grade level work. . .where it otherwise would not be required.

Only a handful of states require that public school grant access to homeschoolers to public school resources. Courts have thus far, ruled unfavorably towards homeschoolers stating generally, that denying access to public school resources, be it the library, an AP science class, or a sports team is not denying rights to the home schooling family. I’ve include the list of states with equal access laws below. In some cases, the Board of Education has merely made it easier for homeschooled students to gain access, like allowing dual enrollment.

Arizona
Colorado
Florida
Idaho
Illinois
Iowa
Maine
Minnesota
New Hampshire
North Dakota
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Utah
Vermont
Washington

The following states have athletic associations that have agreed to allow homeschoolers to play interscholastic sports. However, the individual school or district is not obligated by law to allow homeschoolers in interscholastic activities: Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Tennessee, Wyoming

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