Santa Fe — Christopher Ruszkowski, state secretary of education, recently announced New Mexico’s first-ever “Parent Bill of Rights” in response to feedback from parents and families across the state, according to a press release form the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED).
Some families have been reporting that they often do not receive important information regarding their child’s academic performance and aren’t included and valued by their school community, the NMPED press release states.
“We’ve been talking about increasing and improving our approaches to parent and family engagement for decades now — but we’ve never prescribed what the fundamental rights are,” Ruszkowski said. “Today we take another step forward, asking everyone to acknowledge that our parents and families deserve these 10 things, at minimum.
“Our state’s best schools are already doing these things, and we’ve learned from those schools via hundreds of school visits over the past two years.”
The NMPED is accepting public comment on the new measure through Jan. 29. A public hearing will be held at NMPED in Santa Fe on Jan. 29 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Interested parties may provide comment at the public hearing or may submit written comments by mail to the Policy Division, New Mexico Public Education Department, 300 Don Gaspar Avenue, Room 101, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501; and by email to email@example.com; or by fax to 505-827-6520.
Copies of the proposed new rule may be accessed through the page titled “Rule Notification” on NMPED’s website at http://webnew.ped.state.nm.us/bureaus/policy-innovation-measurement/rule-notification/, or may be obtained from the Policy Division at 505-827-6452 during regular business hours.
The proposed measure outlines specific rights that would be guaranteed to every parent and family of public school students in New Mexico. The draft “Parent Bill of Rights” is below:
Parent Bill Of Rights
I. Community. Schools shall implement activities that seek to create a welcoming environment that is family-friendly and reflective of the culture and languages of the community.
II. Safety. Parents, families, and students shall receive information, that is not otherwise confidential, regarding their school safety plans and other policies and procedures.
III. Communication and scheduling. Prior to the beginning of the school year, schools shall provide information to parents and families through any combination of phone calls, letters, welcome back events, emails or home visits.
IV. Conferences. Districts and schools shall make efforts to provide flexible scheduling for parent-teacher conferences with alternative methods of communication. Parent-teacher conferences shall include review state assessment data in addition to course grades.
V. Academic guidance. Schools shall offer families various methods and strategies that may help improve their children’s academic success or to assist their children in learning at home.
VI. Academic updates. During the school year, teachers shall communicate with parents and families regarding their student’s performance as it compares to overall grade-level learning goals and college and career readiness. Such communications shall occur on a quarterly basis at a minimum.
VII. Academic performance. Parents and families shall be provided student results on required statewide assessments and shall be provided with their individual student reports no later than 30 days following receipt by Local Education Agencies.
VIII. Wrap-around services. Schools shall provide, and notify parents about, mental health resources, social-emotional learning opportunities, and before- and after-school programs that may be available, including individualized information and resources detailing specific supports that address academic and social-emotional development of their student.
IX. Transparency in governance. District and school websites shall provide information, including district budget and school board meeting notices, agendas, and meeting minutes as required by the Open Meetings Act. School boards shall provide opportunities for families and parents to engage in new policies, changes to policies and budget issues.
X. Transparency in school performance. Parents and families shall have access to an online tool with school performance information, including a single summative rating capturing each school’s performance, in a family-friendly format that is easy to understand and offers an option to compare schools both nearby and across New Mexico. Parents and families shall have the right to transfer their child from a perennially-failing or low-performing school to a higher-performing school without incurring any personal financial cost, in accordance with state statute.