Sen. Craig Brandt
SANTA FE – The New Mexico House of Representatives passed legislation today intended to crack down on truancy and keep teenagers in the classroom by taking away their driver’s licenses if they habitually ditch class.
If the bill becomes law, a student who misses 10 or more classes will lose their driver’s license or learner’s permit. HB 117, which is sponsored by Rep. Jimmie Hall, R-Bernalillo, and Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Sandoval passed the House floor by a 36-32 vote.
“It is so important that our kids stay in school,” Hall said. “If students keep skipping class, then they are not learning — it is that simple.”
Rep. Jimmie Hall
When students are not in school, they are far less likely to succeed. Currently, truant students go through a backed-up court process, leaving schools with no options to crack down on the issue. This legislation will provide students, families and schools with the flexibility to either bring the students back into the classroom or go to the Motor Vehicles Department and suspend their license.
When a student misses 10 or more classes they are considered truant, and studies show that more than 16 percent of New Mexico’s students fall into that category. The truancy rate has actually increased by about 3 percent in the past year and is likely to continue to grow if nothing is done. Additionally, more than 20 states have similar policies in place and have seen their graduation rates increase since they implemented the policy.