J. Michael Smith, Esq.
Michael P. Farris, Esq.
Public School Access for Homeschoolers—A Legal Summary
Students receiving home instruction may enroll in any classes at the appropriate public school. This includes all academic, cocurricular and extracurricular activities. Maine Revised Statutes Annotated tit. 20-A, §5021.
For regular classes and cocurricular activities, the superintendent’s approval is required, but he may not unreasonably withhold his approval. (See 20-A MRSA §5021.1.A and .4.A. Do not confuse with §5021-A) The superintendent’s approval is not required for a home instruction student to try out for extracurricular activities. (See 20-A MRSA §5021.5)
However, a federal court ruled that if a homeschooler plays on a private school team, it is not a violation of federal law for the state sports association to disqualify the team from interscholastic competition. Pelletier v. Maine Principals’ Ass’n, 261 F. Supp. 2d 10 (D. Me. 2003) (After the federal case ended, the state court case was dismissed without a ruling. York County Superior Court, ALFSC-CV-2003-00073.)
Although §5021(3) seems to give homeschoolers the right to access special education services, schools have taken the position that homeschoolers are not eligible for special education services.
Students homeschooling through a private school “recognized” by the Commissioner of Education as providing equivalent instruction (i.e., by following the applicable guidelines) have access to curricular, extracurricular and interscholastic activities unless the public school does not have the “capacity.” See 20-A Maine Revised Statutes §5021-A as amended by LD 92 effective July 22, 2013. (Do not confuse this statute with 20-A §5021.)
For more information on public school access, see HSLDA’s Issues Library and HSLDA’s State Laws Concerning Participation of Homeschool Students in Public School Activities.
Updated July 14, 2017