PRESS RELEASE - March 8, 2004
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Public Outreach Director
(505) 476-0393

Public Education Commission to Consider New Duties As a Result of 2004 Legislation

(Santa Fe NM)--The Public Education Commission (PEC) will consider a plan to implement its new duties as detailed in HB 96a "Public Education Department Act" of 2004 at its March regular meeting. The bill passed the Legislature and was signed into law on March 1. The meeting will be held on Friday, March 12, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Jerry Apodaca Education Building, Mabry Hall, located at 300 Don Gaspar in Santa Fe. The implementation plan will be considered at 1:15 p.m.

HB 96a implements the constitutional amendment approved by the voters on September 23, 2003 to change the system of public school governance. It establishes the Public Education Department as a cabinet department answerable to the Governor and establishes that the PEC’s duties will be advisory.

At 9:30 a.m., the PEC will recognize teachers newly certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. At 10:30 a.m., it will consider a response to education-related legislation from 2004.

At 11:00 a.m., Secretary of Education Dr. Veronica C. García will consult with the PEC on rule changes, including the following:

· The proposed “Unsafe School Choice Option” to provide choices for students attending unsafe schools as required under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001.
· Amendments to bring the state’s accountability regulations into compliance with NCLB, including the Adequate Yearly Progress (student proficiency against the state’s standards), disaggregation of student data and 95% student graduation rate requirements.
· Amendments to the state’s Standards for Excellence and regulation on Children with Disabilities/Gifted Children to require that records transferred from school to school include information regarding expulsions and disciplinary actions.
· Revising the competencies taught by teacher preparation programs, including reading competencies for elementary and special education teachers and competencies for family and consumer sciences teachers.
· Amendments to limit licensure waivers to teachers only to align with HB 212 of 2003.
· Amendments to add two new licenses for school health assistants.
· Amendments to increase the requirements for new school business officials.

The PEC will also hear a report from the School Bus Safety Task Force, appointed by Secretary García in November following allegations that an elementary school bus driver for the Moriarty Municipal Schools was driving under the influence.