With Google shutting down Google+, I thought it was important to convert some Google+ posts to posts on this blog. Below is a post from January 24, 2016 that was originally posted at https://plus.google.com/105581925654470076312/posts/22KPP1p4vzB.
As the next post in this series about the New Mexico Activities Association's (NMAA's) exclusion of homeschool teams from competitions, I thought I would briefly take a look at the law that is referred to by the NMAA Handbook. The complete reference from New Mexico statue is:
22-8-23.8 . Home school student activities program unit. The home school student activities program unit for a school district is determined by multiplying the number of home school students who are participating in school district activities governed by the New Mexico activities association by the cost differential factor of 0.1. The home school student activities program unit shall be paid to the school district in which it is generated. A home school student is eligible to participate in up to three school district activities at the public school in the attendance zone in which the student resides, according to the New Mexico activities association guidelines. The school district shall verify each home school student's academic eligibility to participate in school district activities. As used in this section, "activities" means athletics, co-curricular and extracurricular activities sanctioned by the New Mexico activities association. History: Laws 2007, ch. 365, § 2; 2009, ch. 93, § 1; 2012, ch. 23, § 1.
(Search for "22-8-23.8" at http://public.nmcompcomm.us/nmpublic/gateway.dll/?f=templates&fn=default.htm for the text.)
The bigger context of this NM state statue is that it is a part of the Public School Finance Act, which has been amended many times over the years. This is defining the funding formula for allowing homeschool students to participate in activities with their local public schools. In the NMAA Handbook, the fact that this related to a funding formula is obscured (intentionally or not).
The good news is that New Mexico has a specific statue stating that homeschool students can participate in NMAA activities through their local school district and defining how the school district receives funds for the participation. Additionally, the law provides guidelines for that participation at the school district level (following NMAA guidelines for eligibility, etc.).
Now, the very difficult thing to see here is how this excludes the participation of independent homeschool teams from NMAA-sanctioned activities. If this is all the law says about the involvement of homeschool students in NMAA activities, it is fairly clear that it does not say anything that would exclude the participation of homeschool teams as independent entities in NMAA-sanctioned activities. All it does is declares how homeschool students can participate with their local school districts in activities. So, the NMAA's declaration that homeschool students can only participate through the local school district in NMAA-sanctioned activities appears to be a hard-to-defend interpretation of the law.
Further, since this is a part of the Public School Finance Act and homeschool teams are not funded through that act, there is no reason to mention them. Further, homeschool teams provide entry fees for participation in events, so it isn't like they are getting a free ride by participating. Again, there is no reason the homeschool teams' participation would need to be specified because the participation is covered by private, not public, funds.
In response, the NMAA may say, "Well, if it isn't in statue, then we can't do it." Again, that seems to be a significant stretch since very few things are actually prescribed in statue. Further, it does not seem reasonable that the intention of the statue was to limit the participation of homeschool teams in NMAA-sanctioned activities--it was there to enable homeschool students to participate through their local school districts and provide the associated funding.
Again, it is hard to understand the motivations for the NMAA's rule changes. Why intentionally exclude homeschool students from NMAA participation? I'll look at that in an upcoming post (see the Google+ post or the local version)