The Supreme Court of Michigan ruled that nonessential elective courses offered to public school students must be offered to resident nonpublic school students on a shared-time basis. Snyder v. Charlotte Public School District, 365 N.W.2d 151 (1984). MCLS § 380.1278(9).

The Michigan Department of Education has interpreted this case to mean that both nonpublic and homeschool students may enroll in nonessential elective courses at their local public school. These courses include physical education, art, foreign language, music, driver’s education, computer science, and courses that are part of a career and technical education program. For more details, see page 12 of Michigan Department of Education’s Nonpublic and Home School Information, 2022-2023.

A public school may decide to give a homeschool student access to sports but homeschool students do not have a right to participate in public school interscholastic sports. This is the result of the Court of Appeals of Michigan’s decision in Reid v. Kenowa Hills Public Schools 680 N.W.2d 62 (2004).

Additionally, MCLS § 380.1279g(11) gives homeschool students the right to take the Michigan Merit Examination at the local public school:

“. . . a child who is a student in a nonpublic school or home school may take the Michigan merit examination under this section. To take the Michigan merit examination, a child who is a student in a home school shall contact the school district in which the child resides, and that school district shall administer the Michigan merit examination, or the child may take the Michigan merit examination at a nonpublic school if allowed by the nonpublic school. Upon request from a nonpublic school, the superintendent of public instruction shall direct the provider or providers to supply the Michigan merit examination to the nonpublic school and the nonpublic school may administer the Michigan merit examination. If a school district administers the Michigan merit examination under this subsection to a child who is not enrolled in the school district, the scores for that child are not considered for any purpose to be scores of a pupil of the school district.”

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.