ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Hundreds of high school students from several Albuquerque Public Schools protested the state’s new standardized test for a second day Tuesday by leaving school and trekking along Coors Boulevard, even as district officials posted new penalties for those who “interfere with the educational rights of others.”
The students came from Rio Grande High School, Atrisco Heritage Academy and South Valley Academy, and they walked to West Mesa High School.
While the number of protesters declined – there were about 900 to 1,000 students Monday – APS officials said they remained very concerned about students leaving their campuses.
“I basically told them that they had the right to protest. But I can’t condone you leaving campus,” Albuquerque Public Schools board member Steven Michael Quezada said after addressing students who had gathered on West Mesa’s football field.
Quezada told students he shares their frustration over the PARCC exam, but leaving school was neither safe nor smart, he said.
APS posted new potential penalties for student protesters Tuesday.
“We respect the rights of students to voice their opinions, but we will not tolerate protests that interfere with the educational rights of others, become disruptive or thrust students into danger,” the statement reads.
It lists the following penalties:
- Students who choose to leave their campuses will be marked unexcused and not be allowed back on campus for the day.
- Students will be given a zero for the entire day of testing and/or missed school assignments.
- Students who decide to leave their assigned campuses and go to other schools can be charged with criminal trespassing and/or face possible suspension.
Isaiah Meza, a junior at Rio Grande High School, said students from other schools came to Rio Grande to protest, and administrators put the school on lockdown, but then some students in the school were able to run out the doors to join the protest.
When asked whether the protests would last multiple days, Rio Grande 10th-grader Justina Silva said, “It wouldn’t be effective if it was just one day.”
During his talk with students, Quezada said walking to another school not only put them in danger, but also threatens their cause. If a student were injured on a trek to another school, “that’s the news story and it’s not about your fight,” Quezada said.
A large group of students also protested at Albuquerque High on Tuesday.