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New Mexico Compulsory Education Laws

States can and do require children to attend school. The reason for compulsory education laws is that we generally want everyone to have at least a basic level of education. If everyone can read the street signs when they are driving and can do the basic math to manage their household expenses, we will all be better off. States can also hold parents accountable for their children attending school because parents and guardians have legal responsibilities to their own minor children.

The following table outlines the main compulsory education laws in New Mexico.

Code Sections New Mexico Statutes Chapter 22: Public Schools, Article 12: Compulsory School Attendance Law
New Mexico Administrative Code, Title 6, Chapter 10: Public School Administration, Part 8: Compulsory School Attendance
Required School Attendance Ages New Mexico law requires children between the ages of 5 to 18, the age of majority, to attend school.
Exceptions to Attendance Requirements While children must attend school, they type of school they attend can vary. The exceptions to attendance requirements at public school include:
  • Attending private school, home school, or a state institution that provides free education
  • Graduated from high school already
  • Student is at least 17 years old and employed gainfully employed or engaged in an alternative form of education sufficient for the person's educational needs and the parent or guardian consents
  • Consent of a parent or guardian if under 8 years old
  • If unable to benefit from school because of learning disabilities or a mental, physical, or emotional condition, although, Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for children with disabilities is required by federal law
Home School Provisions Yes, you can choose to home school your child. However, there are legal requirements, including notifying the New Mexico Public Education Department that you want to establish a home school. Your homeschooled child may be able to borrow books from the local public school and participate in extra-curricular and sports with the public school, depending on the local school board policy.
Penalties on Parents for Non-Compliance A parent of a truant child, after being informed in writing of the problem by the school, who knowingly allows their student to violate the school attendance laws is guilty of a petty misdemeanor. The penalty depends on the number of offenses:
  • 1st offense – A $25 to $100 fine or community service order
  • 2nd and subsequent – Up to a $500 fine or up to 6 months in jail
Penalties on Students for Non-Compliance A truant child can have his or her driving privileges suspended by the Children’s Court for up to 90 days on the first finding of habitual truancy and up to one year for a subsequent finding, among other possible outcomes.

Note: State laws are constantly being revised. Please verify these education laws by conducting your own legal research or contacting a knowledgeable New Mexico lawyer.

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