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March 18, 2003

Maine Homeschoolers Denied Access to Private School Sports

Last fall, homeschooling students Douglas and Laura Pelletier were eagerly anticipating their yearly participation in the Seacoast Christian School track and cross-country teams' spring season. But when the Maine Principals' Association (MPA) director Richard Durost incorrectly reinterpreted Maine law regarding the participation of homeschoolers on private school athletic teams, their excitement ended.

On November 26, 2002, Durost issued a memorandum warning MPA member schools that their eligibility to compete with other member schools would be jeopardized if they allowed homeschoolers to play on private athletic teams. Homeschoolers would still be allowed to play--but only on public school teams.

The MPA is the sole agency regulating high school interscholastic extracurricular activities in Maine. Member schools, which include virtually all of Maine's public high schools and many private high schools, agree to follow certain rules governing competition and eligibility. Since 1995, Maine statutes have required public schools to allow homeschooled students who live in their district to participate in extracurricular activities. Also, since 1995, homeschooled students have participated in extracurricular activities at private schools without controversy and with the full knowledge of the MPA, its member schools and the public.

On Tuesday, March 18, 2003, HSLDA filed a complaint requesting the court to issue a preliminary injunction against the MPA interpretation, allowing the Pelletiers and other Maine homeschoolers like them to participate as planned during the spring season. For Doug Pelletier, this spring is his last chance for involvement before he goes to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

HSLDA is fighting for the constitutional rights of Maine homeschoolers to avoid public school participation. The MPA does not have the authority to decide that homeschoolers may only participate with public schools.