A daytime curfew law could restrict homeschooled students in New Mexico from any learning experiences outside the home.
The law, House Bill 53, would allow any “municipality or county in the state to adopt a curfew ordinance for anyone under age 16,” the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) said. “The bill allows both a nighttime curfew – between midnight and 5 a.m. – and a daytime curfew during school hours on weekdays.”
The HSLDA is representing homeschooling families and fighting back against the legislature’s proposal.
The law is meant to keep public or private school students from skipping school, but it neglects homeschool students. The law also neglects the fact that many students could be acting within the law.
“Most of the time, the children who are stopped are over 16 but under 18, and engaged in perfectly lawful activities – like going to college classes, going to private lessons or heading to the store at the request of their parents,” said HSLDA Staff Attorney TJ Schmidt. “HSLDA has been involved in numerous situations where homeschooled students have been stopped, questioned and intimidated while engaged in perfectly lawful activities.”
The bill does include, however, some exemptions if made law. Those exemptions include: if an adult accompanies the student or if the student is not required to be in attendance.
Schmidt said while there are exemptions for homeschooled students, he worries that police could harass the students.
“First, homeschooled students would be stopped and questioned,” he said. “Local law enforcement would need to verify that any student they stopped was homeschooled.
“Second, if a child were stopped and law enforcement was not able to contact the child’s parent or guardian, the child could be taken into custody,” Schmidt added. “In the unlikely event that the parent wasn’t able to be reached within a six-hour time period, then the officer would have to seek protective custody under the Family In Need of Court-Ordered Services Act.”
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Publication date: March 27, 2017