New Mexico State Regulations

Updated February 2, 2017 State Regulation of Private Schools (Revised July 2009) is the last full report.

Private Schools

Accreditation, Registration, Licensing, and Approval

  • Accreditation: optional
    • The New Mexico Public Education Department (public education department) has a duty to assess and evaluate private schools that desire state accreditation and to prescribe courses of instruction, graduation requirements, and standards for private schools seeking state accreditation. New Mexico Statute (NMSA 1978) 22-2-2 D, G. A nonpublic school will be considered accredited by the public education department if this action is undertaken by one of the following agencies: Adventist Accrediting Association of Schools; Colleges and Universities; Association of Christian Schools International; Association of Christian Teachers and Schools; Christian Schools International; International Christian Accrediting Association; Independent Schools Association of the Southwest; National Association for the Education of Young Children; National Lutheran Schools Association; New Mexico North Central Association; or Navajo North Central Association. and New Mexico Administrative Code (NMAC).
    • The public education department is authorized to monitor the operation of a nonpublic school seeking and/or holding a public education department accreditation. NMAC.
  • Registration: no requirements
  • Licensing: no requirements
  • Approval: no requirements

Teacher Certification

  • No state policy currently exists.

Length of School Year and Days

  • Persons subject to the Compulsory School Attendance Law must attend school for at least the length of time of the school year that is established in the school district in which the person is a resident. NMSA 1978, §22-12-2.


  • The public education department regulates minimum standards for approved driver-education and motorcycle driver-education courses. NMSA 1978, §22-13-12.
  • The public education department’s authority to approve courses of instruction in private schools does not extend to supervision, control, or management over private schools. Santa Fe Community School v. State Bd. of Education, N.M. Sup. Ct. R. 518 P.2d 272, 1974.
  • A nonpublic school may enter into a contract with its resident school district. The contract will allow its students to participate in the statewide cyber academy. NMSA 1978, §22-30-6.

Recordkeeping and Reports

  • The public education department is under a statutory duty to require periodic attendance reports from private schools on forms prescribed. NMSA 1978, §22-2-2 I.
  • The governing authority of a private school is responsible for initiating the enforcement of the Compulsory School Attendance Law for its enrolled students. The private school must give written notice of noncompliance by certified mail or personal service on the parent and/or guardian. If violations continue after written notice, the student must be reported to the probation services office of the judicial district where the student resides for an investigation. NMSA 1978, §22-12-7.
  • The school superintendent of a private or parochial school must prepare a record showing the immunization status of every child enrolled in a school under his or her jurisdiction. The record must be current and available to the public health authorities. The superintendent must report the name of any parent and/or guardian neglecting to immunize his child to the director of the health services division of the health and environment department. NMSA 1978, §24-5-4.

Health and Safety Requirements

  • No person with a communicable disease in a transmissible state dangerous to the health of students may be employed in a private school. Private school employees, including bus drivers, must present upon employment a certificate from a licensed physician stating that the person is free from communicable diseases. NMSA 1978, §22-10A-34 A and C.
  • Children attending private or parochial schools are required to be immunized according to rules and regulations promulgated by the health services division of the health and environment department, unless exempt due to medical contraindications or religious beliefs. NMSA 1978, §§24-5-1 and 24-5-3.
  • The health services division of the health and environment department must maintain a program to educate the general public, including private school students, on the nature and inheritance of sickle cell anemia. NMSA 1978, §24-3-1.
  • Private schools are required to conduct at least one fire drill each week during the first four weeks of the school year, and at least once each month thereafter, for the remainder of the school year. Two drills must be shelter-in-place drills, one must be an evacuation drill, and the remainder must be fire drills. If a paid fire department is maintained in the area, a member of the department must be asked to attend to give instruction and constructive criticism. NMSA 1978, §22-13-14.
  • The state fire marshal is required by statute to prescribe rules, regulations, and programs for teaching the proper methods of fire prevention and control to all school children. NMSA 1978, §59A-52-7.
  • It is a misdemeanor to willfully interfere with the educational process of any private school by an act that would disrupt the functioning of the school. NMSA 1978, §30-20-13.
  • Private schools must cooperate with any law enforcement agency investigating a missing person report. NMSA 1978, §29-15-10.
  • Criminal sexual contact with a minor between 13 and 18 years old perpetrated by a private school employee, health service provider, or volunteer who is at least 18 years old and four years older than the victim is a felony. NMSA 1978, §§30-9-10 and 30-9-13.
  • A private school and area within 1,000 feet of the school property line is a “drug-free school zone.” NMSA 1978, §30-31-2.


  • No state policy currently exists.


  • The state’s Instructional Material Law was overturned when the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that it violated the New Mexico Constitution Article XII, Section 3. The court stated that the loan of instructional materials was considered supporting private schools and private schools “not under the exclusive control of the State cannot receive either direct or indirect support”. Moses v. Skandera, N.M. Sup. Ct. R. 036, Dec. 17, 2015.


  • No state policy on testing currently exists.

Special Education

  • Local school boards may place exceptional children in private, nonsectarian, nonprofit educational training centers. The local school board of education pays for education and services from funds available. Agreements between local school boards and private schools must provide for diagnoses and educational programs that meet state standards. NMSA 1978, §22-13-8.

Nursing and Health

  • Any person referring a family for family services is immune from civil or criminal liability unless the person acted in bad faith or with malicious purpose. NMSA 1978, §32A-3A-3D.


  • No state policy currently exists.

Professional Development

  • No state policy currently exists.

Reimbursement for Performing State and Local Functions

  • No state policy currently exists.

Tax Exemption

  • All property used for educational purposes is exempt from state taxation. New Mexico Constitution, Art. VIII §3.

Public Aid for Private Education

  • Constitutional Provisions: The New Mexico Constitution prohibits the appropriation of any state educational funds to support any sectarian, denominational, or private school. In addition, the constitution prohibits appropriations for educational purposes not under the absolute control of the state. New Mexico Constitution, Art. XII, §3.
  • Programs for Financial Assistance for Attendance at Private Schools: No such programs currently exist.

State-Level Nonpublic School Group

  • No state-level group currently exists.

Home Schools

Initial and Renewal Applications

  • Any person operating or intending to operate a home school must submit a home school registration form made available from the public education department or posted on its website within 30 days of the home school’s opening. The person must also notify the public education department on or before August 1 of each subsequent year of operation of the home school. Additionally, the operator of the home school must maintain records of student disease immunization. NMSA 1978, §22-1-2.1.

Curriculum and Instruction

  • A “home school” is a home study program of instruction operated by a parent, guardian, or other person having custody and control of a school-age person that provides a basic academic educational program, including reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science. NMSA 1978, §22-1-2 E and J.
  • Any person operating or intending to operate a home school shall provide instruction by a person possessing at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. NMSA 1978, §22-1-2.1.
  • A school-age person is subject to the provisions of the Compulsory School Attendance Law and must attend school for at least the length of time of the school year that is established in the school district in which the person is a resident. NMSA 1978, §22-12-2.

Assessment and Diplomas

  • The board of regents, governing board, or community college board of a public post-secondary educational institution may not require proof of a high school equivalency credential from an applicant who has completed all requirements of a home-based education program and has submitted the test scores that otherwise qualify the student for admission to the institution. NMSA 1978, §21-1-1.1.

Special Education

  • No state policy currently exists.

Public School Access

  • A homeschooled student is eligible to enroll for free in the statewide cyber academy by enrolling for one-half or more of the minimum courses required within the local public high school curriculum. Alternatively, the student may enroll and pay 35 percent of the value per curricular unit if enrolled for less than half of the minimum courses required. NMSA 1978, §22-30-6.
  • Per the New Mexico activities association guidelines, a homeschooled student is eligible to participate in their local school district athletics, co-curricular and extracurricular activities. NMSA 1978, §22-8-23.8.
  • Homeschooled students may take one or more local public school class. NMSA 1978, §22-8-23.9.

Web Resources

Information and Legislative

Contact Information – State and Federal Departments of Education New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786
Phone: (505) 827-5800
Fax: (505) 827-6725
U.S. Department of Education, New Mexico

Updated February 2, 2017