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J. Michael Smith, Esq.
President

Michael P. Farris, Esq.
Chairman

Public School Access for Homeschoolers—A Legal Summary

SOUTH CAROLINA

A. Pursuant to Section 59-63-100 of the Code of Laws of South Carolina 1976 Annotated, home schooled students may not be denied by a school district the opportunity to participate in its interscholastic activities if the following three requirements are met:

(1) The student “meets all school district eligibility requirements with the exception of the … school district’s school or class attendance requirements; and [the] class and enrollment requirements of the associations administering the interscholastic activities,” S.C. Code Ann. § 59-63-100(B)(1);

(2) The student “resides within the attendance boundaries of the school for which the student participates,” S.C. Code Ann. § 59-63-100(B)(3)(a); and

(3) The student “notifies the superintendent of the school district in writing of his intent to participate in the interscholastic activity as a representative of the school before the beginning date of the season for the activity in which he wishes to participate.” S.C. Code Ann. § 59-63-100(B)(4).

The home school student must “fulfill the same responsibilities and standards of behavior and performance, including related practice requirements, of other students participating in the interscholastic activities of the team or squad and is required to meet the same standards for acceptance on the team or squad.” S.C. Code Ann. § 59-63-100(D).

The school district, in turn, “may not contract with a private entity that supervises interscholastic activities if the private entity prohibits the participation of … home school students in interscholastic activities.” S.C. Code Ann. § 59-63-100(F).

B. This equal access statute does not apply to brand new home schoolers, however, because it defines the term “home schooled students” as including only those students who have been homeschooled “in accordance with Section 59-65-40 [Option I], 59-65-45 [Option II], or 59-65-47 [Option III] … for a full academic year prior to their participating in an interscholastic activity pursuant to this section.” S.C. Code Ann. § 59-63-100(A)(3).

Unsurprisingly, then, a “public school student who has been unable to maintain academic eligibility is ineligible to participate in interscholastic activities as a … home school student for the following semester.” S.C. Code Ann. § 59-63-100(C).

C. For the purposes of this equal access statute, the term “interscholastic activities” is defined as including, but not being limited to, “athletics, music, speech, and other extracurricular activities.” S.C. Code Ann. 59-63-10(A)(4).

Code of Laws of South Carolina 1976 Annotated § 59-63-100

(A) As used in this section:

(1) “Charter school student” is a child enrolled in a charter school established pursuant to Chapter 40, Title 59.

(2) “Governor’s school student” is a child enrolled at a Governor’s school established pursuant to this title.

(3) “Home school student” is a child taught in accordance with Section 59-65-40, 59-65-45, or 59-65-47 and has been taught in accordance with one of these sections for a full academic year prior to participating in an interscholastic activity pursuant to this section.

(4) “Interscholastic activities” includes, but is not limited to, athletics, music, speech, and other extracurricular activities.

(B) Individual Governor’s school students and home school students may not be denied by a school district the opportunity to participate in interscholastic activities if the:

(1) student meets all school district eligibility requirements with the exception of the:

(a) school district’s school or class attendance requirements; and

(b) class and enrollment requirements of the associations administering the interscholastic activities;

(2) student’s teacher, in the case of a Governor’s school student, certifies by submitting an affidavit to the school district that the student fully complies with the law and any attendance, class, or enrollment requirements for a Governor’s school. In addition, a charter school student’s teacher, in the same manner required by this subsection for a Governor’s school student, also must certify by affidavit to the student’s school district that the student fully complies with the law and any attendance, class, or enrollment requirements for a charter school in order for the student to participate in interscholastic activities in the manner permitted by Chapter 40 of this title;

(3) student participating in interscholastic activities:

(a) resides within the attendance boundaries of the school for which the student participates; or

(b) in the case of a Governor’s school student, resides or attends a Governor’s school within the attendance boundaries of the school for which the student participates; and

(4) student notifies the superintendent of the school district in writing of his intent to participate in the interscholastic activity as a representative of the school before the beginning date of the season for the activity in which he wishes to participate.

(C) A public school student who has been unable to maintain academic eligibility is ineligible to participate in interscholastic activities as a charter school student, Governor’s school student, or home school student for the following semester. To establish eligibility for subsequent school years, the student's teacher shall certify by submitting an affidavit to the school district that the student meets the relevant policies of the school at which the student wishes to participate.

(D) A Governor’s school student or home school student is required to fulfill the same responsibilities and standards of behavior and performance, including related practice requirements, of other students participating in the interscholastic activities of the team or squad and is required to meet the same standards for acceptance on the team or squad.

(E) A Governor’s school may not be denied by a school district the opportunity to have a team representing the school participate in interscholastic activities if the team meets the same eligibility requirements of other teams. An individual Governor’s school student may not participate in an interscholastic activity of a public school district if the school that the student is enrolled in has a team or squad participating in that interscholastic activity.

(F) A school district may not contract with a private entity that supervises interscholastic activities if the private entity prohibits the participation of charter school students, Governor’s school students, or home school students in interscholastic activities.

For more information on public school access, see HSLDA’s Issues Library