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NM Officials Double Down on Unlawful Demands

by Tj Schmidt • July 25, 2018

A couple of homeschooling families in New Mexico have received letters from the state’s Public Education Department (PED) rejecting their homeschool notice and telling them they can’t homeschool. The reason? They didn’t follow the state’s made-up rules.

This is the latest development in an ongoing struggle which began when the PED added 11 “statements of understanding” to the official homeschool notice form on their website earlier this year.

Without any legal authority to do so, the PED demanded that all homeschooling parents would have to agree and sign these forms to officially “register” their homeschool program. When a few homeschooling parents asked the PED about this requirement, they were told that the PED intended to legally bind parents to these signed statements of understanding.

One of the statements that the PED would like parents to agree to is that they (the PED) could declare a homeschool program not in compliance with the law and then order their student(s) to attend a public or private school. All without a hearing or any due process.

As we reported earlier this month, both Christian Association of Parent Educators - New Mexico (CAPE-NM) and HSLDA have been encouraging homeschooling parents in New Mexico to continue submitting only the “Notification and Establishment of a Home School” written form available on the PED website. This form is the third and last page of a document that begins with the statements of understanding, and it’s all a family needs to submit to be in compliance with the state’s homeschool law.

The deadline to submit the notice is August 1 (or within 30 days if you begin homeschooling after this date). Hundreds of families have already submitted their notice without the statements of understanding from the PED.

A couple of families have received a form letter back from the PED claiming to “reject” their homeschool notice. The PED letter states in part, “We have received documentation attempting to register your child(ren) for home school: however, you did not sign the Statements of Understanding of Home School Parent/Family for and we are unable to register your child(ren).” The letter goes on to say that until this portion of the form is completed, the PED will not process the registration for the homeschooling family.

HSLDA responded by sending a letter to the PED on behalf of each family who received their “rejection” letter. Our intent is to make it abundantly clear that the homeschooling community will not tolerate this overreach. We want the PED to know that HSLDA will defend our members—in court, if we have to—against unlawful demands by the state.

We have heard from several different sources that the PED is not quite sure what to do about all of the notices that they have received without the statements of understanding. These sources have been told that the PED is holding onto all of the notices until they decide exactly what they intend to do.

If we do not hear from the PED by early August, we will follow up with them on this matter. CAPE-NM and others are also working behind the scenes to help resolve this situation in favor of homeschooling families.

And what about those families whose homeschool notices the PED “rejected”? Well, they are able to have another great year of homeschooling, knowing that they are in perfect compliance with state law.

Thomas J. (Tj) Schmidt

Staff Attorney

Tj is an attorney and homeschooling dad dedicated to defending the rights of homeschooling families across the country. Read more.

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