Consistently failing schools are in danger of closing

Megan Cruz

The New Mexico Public Education Department said four consistently failing schools could close by the end of next year.

The schools are Dulce Elementary School, in Dulce, and Los Padillas, Hawthorne and Whittier elementary schools, all in Albuquerque.

The Public Education Department said the schools are in danger of closing because they have gotten F’s the last five years in a row. Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski said Tuesday that these schools and their districts now have a tough choice ahead of them– whether to close or make some big changes.

“They would say they’ve been doing things to try and turn it around. And what I’m saying here today is: What they have to do in the future is much more drastic and much more dramatic than what they’ve done so far,” he said.

Ruszkowski said the deadline for schools to decide is Jan. 9.

“I would hate to see it close,” said Jose Salas, whose grandson goes to Whittier Elementary. “I hope the principal and teachers all get together and make things better.”

According to the school’s website, Whittier has about 400 students.

KOAT asked Ruszkowski if the department waited too long to intervene.

“I think the constant challenge for us at the Public Education Department is to know when is the right time to intervene– How do we intervene? What’s the appropriate role?” he said.

The department is targeting these schools as part of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which requires states to identify troubled schools. In addition to these four, another 200 schools were flagged as needing some kind of improvement. Ruszkowski has pledged millions of state and federal dollars to make those schools better.

KOAT contacted Albuquerque Public Schools today, asking to speak with the superintendent.

Spokeswoman Monica Armenta said the superintendent would not be doing interviews. Instead, the district posted a statement to its website that read, in part, “All of our schools are working to improve, but some need more rigorous intervention and support, and we are committed to providing whatever they need so that they can do what is best for their students.”

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