Schoolers Do Not Have Right to Play on HS Teams: Michigan Court
Gongwer News Service, March 3, 2004
For more articles like this
students do not have a right to play for sports teams of schools
in the districts in which they live, a unanimous panel of the
Court of Appeals has ruled, rejecting arguments that the
policies by schools and a state athletic association violate
equal protection and religious freedom rights of the students.
The unanimous panel, affirming the Washtenaw Circuit Court, said
the policy serves a legitimate purpose of preventing recruiting
at the high school level and affected all students equally (Reid
v. Kenowa Hills Public Schools, COA docket No. 239473).
In addition to Kenowa Hills, the lawsuit by several parents of
home-schooled children was brought against Ypsilanti Public
Schools, Caro Community Schools, Grandville Public Schools,
Tuscola Intermediate Schools, Pinckney Community Schools and the
Michigan High School Athletic Association. The Michigan
Association of School Boards filed a brief on behalf of the
The districts' policies required students to be enrolled in
school for at least 20 hours per week, a standard consistent
with compliance with the Michigan High School Athletic
Association, which sets voluntary rules for interscholastic
competition. The MHSAA rules permit students enrolled at a
school without extracurricular sports to participate on teams in
another school as long as they pass the 20 credit hour standard.
The standard is designed to prevent recruiting of athletes
between schools, but in addition to religious discrimination,
the parents said the rule violates equal protection by
undermining the chances of their children to receive college
In addition to finding no religious or equal protection
discrimination, Judge Stephen Borrello, joined by Judge Patrick
Meter, said state laws do not require the schools to allow
students who are not enrolled to take part in sports programs.
Judge Michael Talbot concurred in the result.
The state Supreme Court has ruled-in the context of laws banning
public aid to nonpublic schools-that students at nonpublic
schools without certain extracurricular activities, such as
band, must be permitted to enroll in the public school activity
because it was a non-core class in which a student has a
statutory right to enroll. It said state law requires schools to
cooperate with students to develop their intellectual capacities
and vocational skills, and that sports, unlike non-core classes,
are not part of the required curriculum.
"But plaintiffs have not asserted that interscholastic sports
develop either their children's intellectual capacities or
vocational skills," the court said. "The Court did not opine or
even suggest that nonpublic school students were entitled to
participate in extracurricular interscholastic athletic events,
and nothing in (its) opinion dictates that conclusion.
Unlike a state requirement that all students be taught by
certified teachers that the Supreme Court found did violate
religious rights, the sports rules do not inescapably compel
conduct that the parents find objectionable for religious
reasons, the Court of Appeals said.
"Rather, by exercising their right to practice their religion
through homeschooling their children, plaintiffs made a choice
between homeschooling their children and having them participate
in extracurricular interscholastic athletic competition," the
court said. It added participation in the extracurricular teams
runs counter to stated beliefs to minimize the influence of
other world views.
back to the top ~
back to Breaking News
~ back to