Constitutional Arguments Raised in Court

Judges have, with few exceptions, been unreceptive to the claims of home school parents. Their unwillingness to grant the parents and their children what they want is based on the general principle cited by school administrators and others that there is no constitutional right to participate in any public school program, including athletics. Instead, whether a student is allowed to join a club or athletic team of a public school is a privilege local school officials can choose to grant or deny at their discretion. Courts agree with them that sports and other extracurricular activities are an integral part of a student’s education in a public school, and this legitimate objective would be frustrated if students not enrolled full time were allowed to participate.

In regard to the specific constitutional arguments put forth by home school parents, courts have said that because there is no burden placed on the religious faith and practices of those in home schools, there is no violation of the Free Exercise clause. Fourteenth Amendment claims based on Equal Protection and Due Process have also generally failed. The interest of the public school officials in efficiently carrying out their administrative responsibilities outweighs any concern of the home school students’ not being treated equally. Due Process claims also are usually unsuccessful because denial of access to public schools and their programs does not amount to a denial of a fundamental right under the U. S. Constitution. The liberty the parents are entitled to under the U. S. Constitution is inapplicable here because, since participation by home school children in public school activities and programs is a privilege that may be granted or denied, parents only have an expectation their offspring will be allowed to participate. Therefore, no constitutional claim under Due Process is viable.

In addition, courts view the parents’ decision to educate their children at home as an exercise of their constitutional rights, and it is inconsistent for the parents to benefit from the public education they have chosen to reject.

Inside Constitutional Arguments Raised in Court