Home educated students, those who follow RSA 193-A, can benefit from offerings at their local schools. Per NH statute RSA 193:1-c, they may participate in curricular and cocurricular activities offered at their local public schools such as sports, music, theater, dances, volunteer activities, clubs, and statewide testing. The districts’ policies must not be more restrictive for homeschoolers than it is for the general student population. In other words, if public school students must maintain a particular GPA, provide a health certificate, or sign an honor code to participate in sports, home educated students must meet the same requirements.
Equal Access does not extend to all district resources and materials, just those that are part of a curricular or co-curricular program. For example, resident homeschoolers may not be able to utilize the school library and their online tools unless the child is enrolled in a class that uses those materials. A resident homeschooler enrolled in band or a sport would have access to whatever instruments or equipment are part of those programs, but if he/she is not participating in the district's programs, the child would not have access to those materials.
In June 2022, RSA 193:1-c changed to require all SAUs to adopt an Equal Access policy that allows resident homeschoolers to participate in curricular and co-curricular programs offered at district schools, if space is available, on the same basis as full-time students. This goes into effect as of August 31, 2022.
Equal Access does not guarantee a homeschooled student of making a team sport, but is given the opportunity to try-out. The student could audition for the school play, but may not get the coveted role. Equal Access gives home-educated resident children the opportunity to participate on the same basis as full-time students.
Some schools require students to maintain a particular GPA or academic minimum to participate in extra curriculars. If so, then homeschoolers are held to the same standard and need to show some kind of evidence of academic stability. Some families are able to share the most recent annual assessment results, prepare a transcript, or provide some kind of "grades." The GSHE High School & Beyond page, near the bottom, has resources for preparing transcripts, if that is requested.
Schools may also require participating home-educated students to satisfy pre-requisites for enrollment in higher level classes. That may be accomplished with placement tests or evidence the child took the pre-requisite class and did well. For example, if a homeschooler wanted to enroll in a Spanish II class, the school may administer a placement test or the family may need to show evidence that the child sufficiently mastered Spanish I in another program.
Each district will have their own process for how to participate through Equal Access. Our recommendation is to first check your district's policies that may be available online for specific instructions re how to enroll in the desired course and/or program. If needed, contact the appropriate grade-level local school to begin enrollment. They may direct families to the teacher or coach, the guidance counseling office, or another internal contact.
Also refer to your own district's policy regarding participation in field trips, school dances, accessing textbooks, and library use.
Effective September 1, 2022, HB 1624 requires districts to establish unified co-curricular activities in schools that currently do not offer them. The purpose is to support children with special needs to participate in co-curricular programs at their local district schools.
Be aware that Equal Access does not extend to special education services. Once a child is no longer enrolled full-time in public education -- a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) -- districts are not required to extend services. Refer to the GSHE page titled Children with Special Needs for more information.
If home-educated students participate in programs, classes, or statewide tests through the public school system such as the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS), career and technical education centers, or local district schools, they will be given Unique Pupil Identifiers, also called the State Assigned Student Identifiers (SASID), and entered into the Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS). The Department of Education has more information about the student database here.
*Special Note: During the pandemic, we saw limitations and restrictions to Equal Access by many districts due to various protocols. Neither the Governor's executive orders nor advisories from the NH Department of Education change any part of the statute, but districts have the autonomy to create their own protocols in response to Covid.
Why enroll your child for a class when you didn't want him/her enrolled there full-time? If you found the school to be a poor academic or social fit -- maybe because of unmet academic needs or bullying or something else -- why go back there expecting a better experience? Instead of enrolling in classes and extracurriculars through your local school district, consider alternatives within the homeschool community. There are many options available to families that can follow the child's interests. Check out the extensive list on the GSHE Enrichment Classes & Programs list. For older students, also look at the information on our High School & Beyond page that includes dual-enrollment and alternatives to public CTE programs. If you don't find something there, try reaching out to programs in your community to form learning and social opportunities for local homeschoolers.