Albuquerque Public Schools takes PED Secretary to court


School’s back in session, but for Hawthorne Elementary, if it gets a failing grade at the end of this year, the Public Education Department could shut the school down. 

Back in December, KRQE News 13 first told you about three schools the PED singled out as part of the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” or ESSA. 

Whittier, Los Padillas and Hawthorne were the three elementary schools chosen to come up with plans to improve their school grades. 

“We need to keep our schools open in every community,” said Ellen Bernstein, President of the Albuquerque Teacher’s Federation.  

She is against what the secretary is doing.

“Okay, I’m not a lawyer. But I can tell you that he’s not an educator, and he’s not a leader of what is best for kids in this state,” said Bernstein.  

The district came up with three proposals; one for each school. 

Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski denied the district’s plans. 

After the district revised its plans, the PED again denied the proposal for Hawthorne Elementary School, which has had failing grades since 2012.

In a new appeal filed by Albuquerque Public Schools, along with Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, they say that decision was in violation of the federal ESSA plan.

APS claims ESSA only allows the PED to intervene if the district refuses to come up with a rigorous intervention plan. The district claims its plan was rigorous enough.

“APS created sound plans in response to the criticism of the PED,” said Bernstein. 

The appeal goes on to say the secretary’s decision is contrary to law and beyond the authority of the PED. 

“To have the PED come back and continue to criticize without knowing the families and the kids, and what they truly want, that’s just wrong,” said Bernstein.

One of the changes made for all three schools was to start the school year earlier and the extend each school day. This year, the school year started July 30. 

KRQE News 13 reached out to the PED for reaction, but have not heard back yet.

The district hopes a judge will put a stop to the PED’s changes until the case can go to trial.

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