As most of you know, CAPE has been in communication over several changes to the notification form which added several items that are not required by NM Homeschool Statutes. CAPE, along with HSLDA lawyer, TJ Schmidt, met with officials from PED in June. PED, as of Thursday July 25th, has finished making changes to address our joint concerns. The items that CAPE-NM and HSLDA had identified are:
STARS ID – This is a unique ID for public school students that allows PED and CYFD to track students as they move to different schools across the state. The law HB168 does not include homeschoolers. Homeschool students need a STARS ID to participate in dual enrollment classes, public school classes, and after-school activities through the school system. Most homeschoolers do not need a STARS ID. PED has included an opt-out in their student registration system. CAPE recommends all families not needing a STARS ID to opt out.
Parent as the instructor – NM law requires that the instructor for the homeschool have a GED or high school diploma. We know of some families where the instructor is a relative but not the parent. The PED registration system now allows families to register if the parent is not the instructor.
Statement of privacy – PED now has a statement that the Federal Law requires student educational records to be kept confidential.
Security of the website – The website, where all information is collected about your family, is now a secure website.
A hard copy of the registration form is now available on the PED website for those families who wish to use it.
We still need to review the homeschool law and affirm that we have read and understand the law to begin the registration process. When we started this process almost two years ago, the language was an interpretation of the law by PED and not the law itself. Most people had issues with the hours requirement, which has been removed.
PED has addressed all of the above issues. CAPE is thankful to PED for working to get these changes implemented for the August 1st deadline. Since PED has made the requested changes, CAPE is recommending that all homeschoolers use the online notification system. https://homeschool.ped.state.nm.us/
As we move forward, keep in mind that the notification form can easily be changed by PED. Any time in the future you start the online registration process and determine you do not feel comfortable. CAPE recommends that you stop and fill out the written notification form, and please notify CAPE of your concern. webnew.ped.state.nm.us/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Homeschool-Notification-Form-with-Statutes-6.25.19.pdf
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do we have to fill out the entire Notification form? To complete the online registration system, you do need to fill out everything. When we agree to legal forms online you must agree entirely. If you disagree with anything in the online form, you still have the option of filling out the written notification. If you choose to use the written notification and there is anything that is offensive to you, you always have the option of marking out the parts you disagree with and stating that you are signing the form under duress. When you sign any legal document and put “Signed under duress,” then that puts the legality of the contract into question in a court of law. CAPE doesn’t provide legal counsel, so if you want to know more about this please contact your attorney. If you are an HSLDA member, you can contact them.
I don’t have a problem with what PED was asking, why does this matter? The vast majority of homeschool families already follow the law, so adding a few more items doesn’t seem to be a big deal. Unfortunately, the problem was the overreach by the PED in mandating items on the form that are not required by law. Once they start applying, and we agree to abide by laws that are meant for public school students, we open the door to them applying other laws meant for public school students, which could include testing, home visits, etc. Our concern is not the items that PED wanted to include, but that they did not have the legal authorization from the legislature.
What is the big deal about the STARS ID? During the 2019 NM Legislative Session, HB168 was passed that established a database to connect CYFD to records of public school students. This is a law specifically mandated for public school students, not homeschool students, and would give access to CYFD to all our students’ information. CAPE recommends that you OPT OUT of the STARS ID for your family.
I need a PED STARS ID and confirmation letter for my student’s dual credit, public school class, or extracurricular activities. What should I do? When we choose to participate within the public school system that receives public funding in any way, we are required to follow the laws mandated for public school students. PED indicated that they will only provide a confirmation form through the online registration system. You can still send in a written notification form, but you will need to contact the PED to receive the STARS ID number. At that point, they may ask you to fill out the online notification form. If you are not comfortable doing that, then we would encourage you to reach out to HSLDA for legal counsel.
I have students that need a STARS ID and some that do not. What should I do? With the online registration system you can choose which students need a STARS ID. You can still send in a written notification form, but you will need to contact the PED to receive the STARS ID number. At that point, they may ask you to fill out the online notification form. If you are not comfortable doing that, then we would encourage you to reach out to HSLDA for legal counsel.
I do not have a High School Diploma or GED. Can I fill out the electronic form? The online form allows you to register without listing a parent or guardian as the instructor. There is a separate place where you can list the instructor for each child. CAPE is only making a recommendation. You and your family must decide what is best for you.
We have decided to fill out the written notification. Why do I need to pay for the Returned Receipt Requested when mailing? As with any item sent via USPS, confirmation will not be given. We recommend that you have confirmation that you did notify according to NM Homeschool Law. Making a copy of your notification form and stapling the USPS receipt signed by PED is for your records, should the need arise.
Last time, the Post Office wouldn’t allow me to send a letter to a government building with Returned Receipt Requested. What should I do? The USPS can, and does, send letters to government buildings with Return Receipt Requested. If you are told otherwise, please ask to speak to a supervisor to help you, or go to another post office.
How does our choice to register either written or online affect registration next year? We all need to work together to make sure that PED doesn’t make any changes not approved by the legislature. Regardless if you choose to use the online form or the written notification this year, next year we will evaluate if we need to make changes again. If PED continues to work with us, then we will continue to recommend the online form. You, however, must prayerfully consider what is best for your family each year.