J. Michael Smith, Esq.
Michael P. Farris, Esq.
Public School Access for Homeschoolers—A Legal Summary
Homeschooled students meeting the same eligibility criteria as public school students may participate in extracurricular activities of their public school district of residence. Such activities include, but are not limited to clubs, musical ensembles, athletics, and theatrical productions. 24 Pennsylvania Statutes Annotated 7sect; 13-1327.1(f.1).
24 Pennsylvania Statutes Annotated §5-511
(a) The board of school directors in every school district shall prescribe, adopt, and enforce such reasonable rules and regulations as it may deem proper, regarding (1) the management, supervision, control, or prohibition of exercises, athletics, or games of any kind, school publications, debating, forensic, dramatic, musical, and other activities related to the school program, including raising and disbursing funds for any or all of such purposes and for scholarships, and (2) the organization, management, supervision, control, financing, or prohibition of organizations, clubs, societies and groups of the members of any class or school, and may provide for the suspension, dismissal, or other reasonable penalty in the case of any appointee, professional or other employee, or pupil who violates any of such rules or regulations.
(b) Any school or any class activity or organization thereof, with the approval of the board, may affiliate with any local, district, regional, State, or national organization whose purposes and activities are appropriate to and related to the school program.
(b.1) Private schools shall be permitted, if otherwise qualified, to be members of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association except that private schools located in cities of the second class which are members of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association shall, if they so elect, be assigned to a district or section outside of the geographical boundary of the second class city but contiguous thereto, and shall participate in Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association sponsored athletic contests in that section. The association shall not prohibit a private school from being a member solely on the grounds that the coach or a member of the coaching staff of any athletic team is not a teacher, or professional employee, either full-time or part-time, at such private school, except that this provision shall not apply to coaches or members of the coaching staff initially employed after January 1, 1965.
(c) The board of school directors may (1) permit the use of school property, real or personal, for the purpose of conducting any activity related to the school program, or by any school or class organization, club, society, or group, (2) authorize any school employee or employees to manage, supervise and control the development and conduct of any of such activities, (3) employ or assign any school employee to serve in any capacity in connection with any of such activities.
(d) Notwithstanding the use of school property or personnel, it shall be lawful for any school or any class or any organization, club, society, or group thereof, to raise, expend, or hold funds, including balances carried over from year to year, in its own name and under its own management, under the supervision of the principal or other professional employee of the school district designated by the board. Such funds shall not be the funds of the school district but shall remain the property of the respective school, class, organization, club, society, or group. The treasurer or custodian of such funds shall furnish to the school district a proper bond, in such amount and with such surety or sureties as the board shall approve, conditioned upon the faithful performance of his duties as treasurer or custodian. The premium of such bond, if any, shall be paid from the fund or funds secured thereby or from the funds of the school district, at the discretion of the board. The treasurer or custodian shall be required to maintain an accounting system approved by the board, shall deposit the funds in a depository approved by the board, shall submit a financial statement to the board quarterly or oftener, at the direction of the board, and shall submit the accounts to be audited in like manner as the accounts of the school district.
(e) All purchases of materials or supplies made by any organization, club, society or group or by any school or class shall be made by the purchaser in accordance with the requirements of section 807.1. [FN2]
(f) The board of school directors of any district is hereby authorized to appropriate any monies of the district for the payment of medical and hospital expenses incurred as a result of participation in such athletic events or games, practice or preparation therefore, or in transportation to or from such athletic events or games, or the practice or preparation therefore, and for the purchase of accident insurance in connection with such participation and transportation.
24 Pennsylvania Statutes Annotated 13-1327.1(f.1)
(1) Beginning January 1, 2006, the school district of residence shall permit a child who is enrolled in a home education program to participate in any activity that is subject to the provisions of Section 511 including, but not limited to, clubs, musical ensembles, athletics and theatrical productions provided that the child:
(I) meets the eligibility criteria, or their equivalent, for participation in the activity that apply to students enrolled in the school district;
(II) Meets the try-out criteria, or their equivalent, for participation in the activity that apply to students enrolled in the school district; and
(III) Complies with all policies, rules and regulations, or their equivalent, of the governing organization of the activity.
(2) For the purposes of this subsection, the school district of residence’s program of interscholastic athletics, including varsity sports, shall be considered an activity and shall include all activities related to competitive sports contests, games, events or exhibitions involving individual students or teams of students whenever such activities occur between schools within the school district or between schools outside of the school district.
(3) Where the activity requires completion of a physical examination or medical test as a condition of participation and the school district of residence offers such physical examination or medical test to students enrolled in the school district, the school district shall permit a child who is enrolled in a home education program to access such physical examination or medical test. The school district shall publish the dates and times of such physical examination or medical test in a publication of general circulation in the school district and on its publicly accessible internet website.
(4) A board of school directors may adopt a policy to implement the requirements of this subsection. Such policy shall only apply to participation in activities and shall not conflict with any provisions of this section.