NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The number of students unaccounted for is getting smaller. The New Mexico Public Education Department says it’s located more than 7,500 students who were enrolled in public schools last spring but not this past fall. That number has was 12,186 in mid-November. Some have enrolled in public, private, and Bureau of Indian Education schools while others moved out of state or are now home-schooled. 4,639 students are still unaccounted for.
According to an NMPED news release, as of this week, 7,547 students, or 62%, had been located through direct outreach, district feedback via spreadsheets, cross-referencing databases, and more recent attendance data reported by districts and charter schools to the Public Education Department in early December.
NMPED says PED Secretary Ryan Stewart will continue to work until every school-age child and youth is known to be safe and engaged in learning. According to the same news release, the statewide effort to account for students began with a letter sent in November to each student’s last known address. As of Tuesday, responses to that letter had accounted for 1,038 students, with additional responses continuing to come in. NMPED says to date, 91 of those responding to the mailer requested additional assistance; nine were referred to the Children, Youth and Families Department; and 42 were found to not be attending school at all.
“These families are facing lots of loss, lots of challenges. We’re hearing heart-wrenching stories,” Deputy Secretary Katarina Sandoval said in the same news release. “We have families hit by COVID loss and secondary students who were separated from their families because of housing issues. In some cases, school just fell by the wayside. We’re getting them the referrals they need to get back on track.”