A student generally does not have a constitutionally protected right to participate in public school athletics programs. However, this is not to say that public schools may freely deny a student’s participation in these programs without some legitimate reason.

What Aspects of Student Participation In Public School Athletics Programs Are Protected By Law?

  • A student’s opportunity to participate in athletics may be protected under the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
  • A student may request to have his/her application to participate in athletics reviewed under the rules that are constitutional.
  • Some state constitutions treat student’s participation in athletics as a property right and entitle it to some level of constitutional protection.
  • Student’s privilege to participate in athletics may be protected under contract law if the right stems from a contractual agreement, like a scholarship or from student handbooks.

However, the degree of protection that is afforded to a student’s privilege to participate in public school athletic programs varies between states.

Do Parents Have Any Rights To Have Their Children Participate In Public School Athletics Program?

Generally no. Parents may wish to have their children participate in public school athletics programs but do not have any right to demand it.

Do Private Or Home Schooled Students Have A Right To Participate In Public School Athletics Program?

Normally no. Public schools are typically not obligated to serve nonenrolled students such as those that are home schooled.

What Are Some Legitimate Reasons That A Public School May Use To Deny A Student From Participating In School Athletics Programs?

  • Academic standards;
  • Alcohol & drug possession and/or consumption;
  • Conduct;
  • Morality; or
  • Public health and safety.

In addition, these standards would need to be fairly and equally applied to all students.

Should I Contact a Lawyer?

If you have questions regarding your rights, or if you believe you have been denied your right to participate in a school athletics program, you may want to contact a family lawyer experienced in education and schools. An experienced attorney will be able to explain your rights to you and represent you in any appeals or administrative hearings that might be necessary.