September 16, 2004
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Legislative Liaison
(505) 827-7803 or
Pager: 988-0582
rwilliams@ped.state.nm.us

Secretary García Calls on School Superintendents
To Act to Ensure Safe Schools

(Santa Fe, NM)—Secretary of Education Dr. Veronica C. García today called on school district superintendents to take action to make schools safer and eliminate “copy-cat” acts which can occur after media reports of violence in the schools. “I request your leadership in assuring that every New Mexico school is safe for students and staff,” she said.

In a memorandum, Secretary Dr. García instructed superintendents to act as follows:

· Inform parents and students about the consequences of having a weapon at school. State law requires schools to adopt policies providing for students who knowingly bring a weapon to school to be expelled from school for up to one year. The policies must also provide that disabled students who have knowingly brought a weapon to school be placed in an alternative educational setting for up to 45 days.

· Inform staff, parents and students that a person making a bomb scare is guilty of a fourth-degree felony. A court may order a person convicted for the offense of making a bomb scare to reimburse the victim of the offense for economic harm caused by the offense (NMSA 30-20-16, Bomb Scares Unlawful).

· Ensure that principals have met recently with staff to review their school safety plans (required under Title IV of the federal No Child Left Behind Act), made sure all emergency contact information is current and assured that all school staff are familiar with emergency procedures.