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2/6/2006 4:16:37 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
New Mexico--Online Notification Rules Present Difficulties

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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February 6, 2006

Dear HSLDA members and friends:

Christian Association of Parent Educators of New Mexico and the Home
School Legal Defense Association are working together to respond to
the Public Education Department's demand that annual notices be made
online. CAPE-NM has written a letter to the Public Education
Department, which is below.

We will keep you updated on our progress with the PED. We hope to
persuade the Department to make changes to their form before the April
1 deadline.

Sincerely,


Scott W. Somerville, Esq.
HSLDA Staff Attorney

*****

Dear Secretary Garcia,

Greetings from the Christian Association of Parent Educators of New
Mexico. We thank you for your commitment to education in New Mexico.
As an organization representing families in New Mexico who educate
their children at home, we commend the PED for efforts to accommodate
and streamline the notification process. The online notification
should prove very time and cost effective for both PED staff and home
school families who are able and willing to utilize this opportunity.
There are however, some issues surrounding the online notification
that we would very much like to discuss further.

We would propose that the online notification be an option rather than
mandatory. To be in compliance with the law, home school families are
responsible to supply written notice within thirty days of a home
school's establishment and on or before April 1st of each year
thereafter. While the web based notification can satisfy this
requirement, to say that you will not allow a hard copy is
unreasonable and outside of a strict interpretation of the law.
According to Scott Somerville, HSLDA's Staff Attorney for New Mexico,
"The PED cannot require all home schoolers to register online. If the
Department wants home schoolers to notify online, it needs to persuade
them to do so, not threaten them with arbitrary demands." Please be
assured, CAPE is not against online notification, we would simply like
to see an honest effort on your part to accommodate those families who
either do not have internet access or have an aversion to this type of
media by removing wording that suggests no other option.

Additionally, again following a strict interpretation of the law, we
hold that the PED does not have legal grounds to require the names and
ages of children being educated at home. We acknowledge that names
and ages on the online notification form do not have an asterisk
indicating required information; however, an uninformed parent could
very easily assume that this information is required. We would simply
ask that a disclaimer be added to the form informing a parent or
guardian that their child's name and age is not required to constitute
a completed notification. It has also been brought to our attention
that there is concern that although the PED intends to do all that it
can to keep information confidential, the site does not meet minimum
requirements for classification as a secure web site. To ask for names
and ages of children where they can be linked to the personal contact
information of the family is a potentially unsafe proposition.

We would like to request an appointment for Friday February 10th at a
time convenient with you. We will call your office to confirm an
appointment with you and any staff who work with home education
issues. Please be assured, CAPE does not intend to initiate a
negative posture toward the PED or online notification. Our goal is
to work through these concerns and eventually be able to communicate a
mutually satisfying solution to home schooling families in New Mexico.


With regards,

Eugene Like, Board Director
CAPE-NM/CAPE Action

www.cape-nm.org

*****

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