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  • Against the Law to Not Send Your Children to School in New Mexico?

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    children at schoolYour children are your children, but that doesn’t mean that the state cannot inject some say into how your children are raised – especially when it comes to education. In the state of New Mexico, truancy is a real crime; if parents are aiding their children in truancy, they could go to jail. Under New Mexico Statute Chapter 22, Article 12 of the “Compulsory School Attendance Law,” children between the ages of five to 18 years must attend school. The type of school that they are required to attend can vary, but they must meet specific requirements in order avoid public school.

    A child does not have to attend public school in the state if:

    • They are enrolled in a private school or home school program;
    • They have graduated from high school early;
    • They are at least 17 years of age and employed gainfully, or they have engaged in alternative education; or
    • They are unable to benefit from school due to a learning disability.

    If a parent refuses to send the child to school, he or she can face fines and even jail sentences.

    What Happens When Your Child is Truant?

    Under New Mexico Statute, a court can order a parent or legal guardian to make sure that the child attends school. If the parent or legal guardian violates such order, he or she can be found in contempt of court. Also, the legal statute requires that the superintendent shall initiate a criminal prosecution against the child’s legal guardian or parent when: (i) the child does not attend school, and (ii) there is no valid reason for a lack of attendance.

    What if a Child Refuses to Attend?

    Parents only have so much control over their children. When a child refuses to go to school, parents have several options for recourse, including calling their school boards’ attendance officers, law enforcement, or a counseling agency for assistance. By creating a record and paper trail, parents can prove that they are making efforts to comply with the delinquency laws.

    What Are the Penalties for Truancy in New Mexico?

    New Mexico’s truancy laws were designed not to punish, but to ensure that children are provided proper education opportunities – and to ensure that their parents are not depriving them of such opportunities. A student becomes legally truant when he or she misses a specific number of days within a specific timeframe without reason or excuse.

    As a parent, if you do not allow your child to go to school or the child has habitual truancy, you could face the following penalties:

    1. 1st Offense – A fine of $25 to $100 and a community service order; or
    2. 2nd Offense – A fine of up to $500 and up to six months in  jail.

    A truant child could also have driving privileges suspended by the Children’s Court for as many as 90 days on the first finding of his or her habitual truancy, and up to one year for every subsequent finding.

    Speak with an Attorney Today

    If your child has been missing school or you have charges filed against you for delinquency, contact New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today. The juvenile system is very complex and requires an attorney with experience in this area. The appropriate advice from a skilled attorney can make a difference. Call to schedule a consultation at 505-375-4661, or fill out our online contact form with your truancy concerns.