PED Threatens Homeschool Freedom

Dear members and friends,

Earlier this fall HSLDA learned from the Christian Association of Parent Educators (CAPE) and a couple home school families that the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) had drastically changed the home school 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 home school 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 home school 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 home school parents under New Mexico law. In our opinion, these assurances are simply the PED wanting to require home school 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 home school form. We have demanded that the PED immediately cease requiring this form, return to the old form, and accept any home school 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 home school law in 2014. In Senate Bill 158, a bill that was primarily about the dual credit program, it changed the date home school 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 home school 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 home school 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 home school 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 home school 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 home school 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 home school freedom in New Mexico!

Tj Schmidt
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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