Textbook bill would give public schools priority over private schools | KOB 4
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Textbook bill would give public schools priority over private schools

Chris Ramirez
February 04, 2019 05:21 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— A bill making its way through the 2019 legislature could stop the state from lending textbooks and instructional materials to non-public schools.   

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Donna Illerbrun, the principal at St. Therese Catholic School, worries lawmakers behind the bill are under the impression that only affluent families send their students to private or religious schools.

“Our community here, our school community -- we have 35 percent of our students qualify for free or reduced lunch,” said Illerbrun. “They are below the poverty line.”

Rep. Daymon Ely supports the bill. But he added an amendment that he thinks is a compromise.

He believes some private schools discriminate against students, so textbooks would go to public schools first-- and then leftovers would go to what he believes are non-discriminating private schools. 

“We added to the bill that all funds would go to fill the instructional needs of public schools, they get the textbooks first, then it would go to private schools that would not discriminate based on all protected classes,” Ely said.

The New Mexico Supreme Court has weighed in on the issue in the past. It said that the state is permitted to loan books to private education schools.

“The state Supreme Court already made this decision in December, just a month or so ago and now the legislature seems to want to undo a state Supreme Court decision,” said John Foreman, state director of the New Mexico Association for Non-Public Schools.

Ely believes the bill is in compliance with what the state Supreme Court ruled.

However, the bill does not explain the process of deciding which private schools are deemed discriminatory.

Track this bill during the 2019 legislature

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Chris Ramirez

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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