Homeschoolers do not have a statutory right to access public school classes or extracurriculars. On November 9, 2011, however, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) amended their bylaws to make it clear that local school districts may allow homeschool students to compete in interscholastic sports, provided the student (1) resides in the district for which he is playing, (2) obtains approval from his local school board and principal, (3) demonstrates that he is academically qualified and is receiving an equivalent education, and (4) complies with all requirements imposed on other members of the team. (See the NJSIAA Constitution, Bylaws, Rules, and Regulations.)

Similarly, the New Jersey Department of Education’s website states that local boards of education may allow homeschool students “to participate in curricular and extra-curricular activities or sports activities.” (See question 10 of the Department of Education’s FAQs.)

In practice, public schools rarely allow homeschoolers to participate.

If a public school allows private school students to come onto public school property to receive special education services, they must provide the same access to homeschool students. Forstrom v. Byrne, 775 A.2d 65 (N.J. Sup. Ct. App. Div. 2001).

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 therefore refer to association rules of particular importance in a number of entries.

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.