Defunct database drives department
New Mexico law requires home schoolers to notify the state Department of Education when they first start home schooling, and then update that information by April 1 of each year. While the law requires very little from home schoolers, the department demands information that goes beyond the law. Dr. Michael Kaplan insists that every home school family provide the date of birth and grade for each home schooled child, even though this information is not required by law. He has threatened to reject every notification that leaves out the birth date and grade level.
The leaders of the Christian Association of Parent Educators-New Mexico (CAPE-NM) repeatedly met with Dr. Kaplan to try to resolve this issue, but their every effort was in vain. Dr. Kaplan never explained why he was so interested in grades and birth dates, but Home School Legal Defense Association and CAPE-NM are almost certain that he is trying to fill in certain fields in the department's "Home School Students Database."
Most New Mexico home schoolers never knew that the department maintained a Home School Students Database. The only legal basis for gathering information on individual home school students arose under previous law, when the state superintendent of schools was required to test home schoolers. § 22-1-2.1, NMSA, 1978. However, the New Mexico Legislature dropped the testing requirement on March 15, 2001.
Since the law no longer requires families to provide the names of individual students, and since the original purpose of the database no longer exists, the Home School Student Database is now optional. HSLDA is now advising member families not to provide any information about individual students in their home school. Home schoolers who are not members of HSLDA may need to be more careful: we do not expect the department of education to give up their database without a fight!
- Scott W. Somerville