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.)
State Subsidized College Classes
Students who have complied with home instruction requirements are eligible to participate in the Maine Postsecondary Enrollment program, also called “dual enrollment”, “concurrent enrollment”, “Early College” and the “Aspirations Program.”
Through this program, students may enroll in college classes at no cost to them. To review the statute requirements, read M.R.S.A 20-A § 4771–4776. Also review any additional requirements that the postsecondary institution may impose. Be aware of any deadlines that apply, especially deadlines from the postsecondary institution.
Things to keep in mind:
Public school access includes participation in public school classes, sports, activities, etc.
States use a unique vocabulary in this area: “extracurricular,” “cocurricular,” “curricular,” “interscholastic,” “program,” “activity,” etc. Care should be taken to distinguish one from another. When a state defines a word, it is important.
While athletic association rules are not “law,” public schools are generally constrained to operate within them, or their teams could be disqualified.
We strive toward keeping this information 100% up to date in this rapidly changing area of the law. However, this post should not be considered authoritative because of the possibility of unobserved changes in association rules, statutes, regulations, or case decisions, and because of lag time between changes and the publication of updates.
Please note: The information on this page has been reviewed by an attorney, but it should not be taken as legal advice specific to your individual situation.