The Ohio Legislature passed House Bill 59, the Omnibus Budget Bill, in June. The bill directs school districts and the Ohio Department of Education to allow home educated students to be “afforded … the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities offered at the district school to which the student otherwise would be assigned during that school year.”
HSLDA Attorney for Ohio Affairs Mike Donnelly said the law has already created some problems.
“We have already dealt with a number of school districts who said they would not change their policy and were telling homeschoolers they would have to enroll to participate,” he explained. “This is clearly contrary to the legislative intent of the law, and the OHSAA’s new policy also supports our view that no enrollment of any kind is required. We expect that there will be some issues as this new law is implemented. HSLDA’s policy is that where equal access laws exist we will work with our members who have issues with discriminatory enforcement.”
Previously, Ohio did not have any laws specifically addressing the issue of a homeschool student's participation in public school activities, leaving each district free to come up with its own policies. Under the new law homeschoolers will have access to extracurricular activities at the public school to which they would otherwise be assigned.
Moving quickly in July to respond to the new law, the Ohio High School Athletic Association updated its policy, informing its members about the law and clarifying that schools would be required to admit homeschoolers without having to enroll in any classes. View its policy online. HSLDA has analyzed equal access issues generally and you can learn more by visiting our issues library page.