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Tue April 1, 2014
Civil Rights Group Sues New Mexico Over Schools
On Tuesday a civil rights group filed what is the second lawsuit against the state of New Mexico, alleging that the public education system violates the constitutional rights of low-income children and those for whom English is a second language.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund brought the lawsuit on behalf of 51 plaintiffs made up of parents and students of 6 different school districts scattered across the state.
The state constitution requires a "sufficient" education for all children. The lawsuit contends that the state provides inadequate funding to educate "at-risk students," many of whom are Hispanic and Native Americans.
Dr. Diane Torres is with the Latino Education Task Force and says New Mexico has incredibly specific laws that are not being upheld.
"We have very unique laws," Torres explained "We've got the Hispanic Education Act, the Indian Education Act and the Bilingual Education Act. Those acts are being ignored or minimally, superficially applied."
Torres says the state is not adequately honoring the cultural and linguistic history of New Mexico.
Not only does the lawsuit aim to boost funding for schools, it also seeks to invalidate Governor Susana Martinez' school initiatives like the teacher evaluation and school grading systems.
A similar but much smaller lawsuit in both scope and the number of plaintiffs was filed last month by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty.
A Public Education Department spokesman said the agency cannot comment on the case.