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Dear members and friends,
Earlier this fall HSLDA learned from the Christian Association of Parent Educators (CAPE) and a couple homeschool families that the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) had drastically changed the homeschool form on their website that can be mailed in. The PED also sent us a letter stating that from now on only the “official” PED homeschool form would be accepted. The PED’s mailed in form states “NO SUBMISSIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED OR PROCESSED THAT ARE NOT COMPLETELY FILLED OUT AND UNCHANGED FROM THIS FORM.”
Besides the PED stating that only their form can be used, the biggest change comes in the form of “Required Assurances” that homeschool parents must initial for their form to be “accepted or processed” by the PED. While most of these assurances are not extremely onerous, they are simply not required to be made by homeschool parents under New Mexico law. In our opinion, these assurances are simply the PED wanting to require homeschool parents to do more than they are legally required to do. What the PED is attempting to do is to change New Mexico from a notice state to an approval state. Unless you submit the form and information the PED is requiring you will not be approved to teach your children at home.
We have written to the PED and strongly objected to their homeschool form. We have demanded that the PED immediately cease requiring this form, return to the old form, and accept any homeschool notice that provides that basic information. We have requested that the PED notify that they will do this by November 15. We have not heard anything from the PED after sending them our letter on November 1.
This change by the PED apparently goes back to a minor change in the New Mexico homeschool law in 2014. In Senate Bill 158, a bill that was primarily about the dual credit program, it changed the date homeschool programs would submit their notice from April 1 to August 1. However, the bill also changed the statute to state that any person operating, or intending to operate a homeschool program is to “submit a home school registration form made available by the department.” At the time there was no indication that the PED would attempt to interpret this to mean that homeschool parents would only be able to submit a PED sanctioned form. While this bill passed in 2014, it wasn’t until August 24, 2017 that the PED decided this provision allowed them to completely change the homeschool form. And insist that only the PED form was permitted.
We strongly disagree with this interpretation. We are committed to defending the right of parents to educate their children free from additions to the law from the PED. Currently we are working closely with CAPE to ensure that the PED reverses course. We are hopeful that the PED will withdraw from this overstep and take corrective action. However, we may need your help to oppose this action by the PED.
In the meantime, I cannot overstate the need for CAPE in New Mexico. We firmly believe that without a strong home school organization, even a state like New Mexico can see erosion of the freedom homeschool parents have to educate their children. If we are not successful in defeating this attempt from the PED more is sure to come. If you are not already a member of CAPE please support them! Your membership and support helps them advocate for homeschool families across the state. HSLDA believes so strongly that we provide a $20 discount for your membership with us when you are part of CAPE. Please visit them at www.cape-nm.org and support continued homeschool freedom in New Mexico!
HSLDA Staff Attorney