Part Time Public School & NSAA Activities
The Nebraska Christian Home Educators Association
Part Time Public School & NSAA Activities
By David Lostroh, NCHEA Legislative Coordinator
A History of Nebraska Statute 79-2,136
The NCHEA has been working on part-time public-school enrollment and extracurricular activities for homeschool students for 20 years starting in 2003.
- 2003, LB534, Senator Phillip Erdman
- 2004, LB896, Senator Phillip Erdman
- 2005, LB270, Senator Phillip Erdman
- 2006, LB821, Senator Phillip Erdman
- 2015, LB103, Senator Bill Kintner;
- 2017, LB58, Senators Bill Kintner, Lydia Brasch, & Steve Erdman
- 2021, LB210, Senator Dave Murman
- 2023, LB372, Senator Dave Murman; moved into LB705.
I have personally testified at the hearing for each of the bills listed above. Certain opponents at these hearings have insisted that homeschool students should not be allowed in public school for classes or extracurricular activities, PERIOD.
The first of the bills that resulted in changing the law was Senator Phillip Erdman’s LB821 in 2006. Before this bill became law, there was no state law requiring school boards to allow homeschool students to be part-time students in a public school; it totally depended on the school district. Some schools would allow homeschool students to enroll as part-time public school students and to participate in Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) extracurricular activities. Others would not permit it at all.
In 2010, Senator Greg Adams made a minor change to 79-2,136 in LB1071 adding reference to the expanded 79-215.
In 2018, the Education Committee (Senator Groene, chair), made another minor change, adding another reference to 79-215 for part-time students who are not residents of the local school district in LB1081.
2023: LB705, Section 75 does the following:
- Removes arbitrary course restrictions for Rule 13 homeschool students who are part-time enrolled in public school.
The removal of course restrictions is included because some public schools limited Nebraska part-time homeschool students to “elective” classes only, i.e., no core classes (Math, Science, History, English, etc), while other public schools made all classes available to part-time homeschool students but limited the number of classes/hours to a maximum of 10 credit hours/2 classes.
- Recognizes that Rule 13 homeschools (parents) set the standards for satisfactory academic performance for a student from the school to participate in public school extracurricular activities and shall provide assurances of compliance with such academic standards.
Over the years, I have heard opponents testify at hearings that public schools doubt the reliability of home school parents reporting home academic performance to the public school when establishing and maintaining student eligibility requirements. Nebraska home school students have had their local school not accept the credits the home school student received from the community college and have had the local school require that they “verify” homeschool credits/transcripts. Many studies of home education over 38 years have demonstrated homeschool students excellent results in academics, social skills, occupation success, civic-mindedness, etc. Colleges love homeschooled students! Home schools do not consider themselves to be inferior to other schools, nor do colleges. Thus, I drafted into LB372/LB705 the statement that home schools set their own academic standards and provide assurances of student compliance with the homeschool’s standards in order to remove this discrimination.
- Prohibits public schools from preferring full-time students over part-time homeschool students in the selection of students for participation in extracurricular activities.
One NCHEA member told us, “We have been told by our superintendent and board that our kids are lucky to get to play, since they ‘don’t meet the requirements’ of full-time attendance, and he claimed that other parents were complaining to him about our student ‘getting’ to play.”
- Requires that any part-time homeschool student participating in extracurricular activities to be enrolled in no more and no less than five credit hours offered by the school district in any semester. [This used to be 10 hours minimum per NSAA By-laws 2.2.1 and 2.5.1. Before that, it was 20 hours/4 classes. The NSAA will have to update their by-laws to meet the new law].
I heard then NSAA Executive Director Jim Tenopir at the 2017 LB 58 hearing urge shelving LB 58 and it’s 5 hour requirement because the NSAA would be changing the then 20 hour NSAA requirement to 10 hours at an upcoming NSAA vote; the vote did change the 20 hour requirement to 10 hours. But, an old loophole in the NSAA by-laws allows schools to exceed the 10 hour requirement in contradiction to the assurances made by Jim Tenopir at the LB 58 hearing. This created needless delay in fixing the problem!
One NCHEA member told us, “In August 2019 we suddenly received a letter in the mail from the local school that if our kids wanted to play sports, they would need to take 4 or more classes per day.” This was clearly after the NSAA change to 10 hours, but the loophole prevailed.
The following is a clarification of the statement in the June 22, 2023, NCHEA Legislative Alert, repeated in item 4. at the top of this section, first sentence:
The new law mandates that the public school cannot require the part-time student to enroll in more or less than 5 hours to participate in extracurricular activities, but the school must allow the part-time student to enroll in all courses he/she selects with a minimum of 5 hours IF he/she participates in extracurricular activities. Nothing in the law requires that the school limit the hours to 5 if the student participates in extracurricular activities; the law only requires that the school cannot demand more or less than 5 hours.
Since the law was passed without the emergency clause, it became effective on 9/2/23.
The NCHEA, having heard from our members regarding the four issues above, worked with Senator Dave Murman on LB210 and LB372, providing draft language for all four items.
We trust that these amendments to Nebraska statute 79-2,136 will provide solutions for those homeschool parents/students who desire part-time enrollment in public school coursework, some of whom may also desire to participate in the public school’s extracurricular activities.
If you will benefit from LB372/LB705, contact Senator Dave Murman to let him know your appreciation!
Thanks to all who have supported some/all of the NCHEA’s bills and efforts to improve part-time public school access / participation and related NSAA hurdles since 2003!
THIS SUMMARY DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE