NM lawmakers discuss ways to protect students with special needs | KOB 4

NM lawmakers discuss ways to protect students with special needs

Kai Porter
October 23, 2019 05:23 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- New Mexico lawmakers met in Espanola Wednesday to discuss school discipline and special education students.

Jesse Clifton, a representative of Disability Rights New Mexico, gave a presentation to the lawmakers.

He said student behavior should not be criminalized if it doesn’t harm others.

“I had a kid one time who threw a pencil, hit an administrator in the back,” Clifton said. “It was a felony assault charge. Those are over-responses to these behaviors. And a lot of times it’s because the school just isn’t aware how to manage the student’s disability, and the police isn’t the answer for that.”

Rep. Liz Thomson, who has a son with autism, believes better training is needed for school staff and law enforcement.

“If they have behavior challenges, it’s usually our fault,” she said. “It’s usually because we didn’t set the program up correctly for them, or we didn’t listen to the cues that they gave them”

Rep. Thompson hopes lawmakers pass legislation in 2020 to protect students with special needs.


Kai Porter

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