SANTA FE ― Two bills designed to support New Mexico’s most vulnerable students have passed their first committees in the House.
House Bills 411 and 301, sponsored by Representative and Majority Floor Whip Doreen Gallegos (D-Las Cruces), support at-risk students who, due to varying circumstances, face unparalleled challenges in pursuing their academic career due to their placement in the foster care system, incarceration in the juvenile justice system, homelessness and/or mental health issues.
Both bills increase opportunity and security for New Mexico’s at-risk students, supporting and empowering them to obtain a high-quality education regardless of circumstances.
“These are some of the most vulnerable kids in schools,” Gallegos said. “For children in foster care, being in the system is stressful enough and as they move in and out of foster homes they too often lose friends, educators, and school communities that are stable parts of their lives.”
Albuquerque Public Schools legislative liaison, Carrie Robin Brunder testified in committee that the package is “probably one of the most important education bills this Session, people just don’t know it yet.”
House Bill 411 provides students in foster care and those involved in the juvenile justice system with ongoing, on-the-ground support to ensure they have opportunities to be successful in school. The bill also enables school districts to provide continuous education support to these students and facilitates the successful implementation of landmark federal law, The Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA) on their behalf. HB 411 passed out of the House Education Committee on a unanimous, bi-partisan vote and now moves to the House Judiciary Committee.
House Bill 301 ensures that student records transfer quickly when students move schools or districts supporting poorer, at-risk students who are subject to much higher levels of transfers between schools mitigating the level of educational disruption. HB 301, also gives priority to students who have experienced education disruption for classes required for graduation and access to extracurricular activities and college and career support. The bill passed unanimously out of the House Health and Human Services Committee and will be heard next in the House Education Committee.