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Lawsuit Claims New Mexico Students’ Rights Are Being Violated

Lawsuit Claims New Mexico Students’ Rights Are Being Violated

Lack of Resources for English Language Learners

Today, the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty (NMCLP) will ask the First Judicial District Court to find that the State has failed to meet its constitutional obligation to provide children the necessary support to learn and succeed. NMCLP will also ask the Court to rule that the State’s system of education is unconstitutional as it applies to Native American students.

The lawsuit is on behalf of a group of New Mexico families and school districts including Gallup, Rio Rancho, Santa Fe, Cuba, Moriarty/Edgewood, and Lake Arthur. The families represented have children who are English language learners, Native American or economically disadvantaged and have been negatively impacted by the lack of resources provided to New Mexico public schools.

For example, one of the plaintiffs in the case, Marsha Leno, who lives in McCartys in western New Mexico, has children enrolled Cibola-Grants County Schools. At home, Leno and her children speak both Keres and English, but at school the children struggle in English Language Arts and other courses that require writing.

Unfortunately, the district lacks an adequate bilingual and English as a second language program for Native American students. The GCCS superintendent says the district lacks adequate funding to address these problems.

The lawsuit, Yazzie v. State of New Mexico, seeks for the Court to order and hold the State accountable to meet its legal responsibility to provide the programming and resources necessary for all public school students to succeed. The lawsuit also seeks to ensure that funds are distributed equitably, including for economically disadvantaged, Native American and English language learner students.

The consolidated lawsuit goes to trial on June 12.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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