House and Senate Leadership Asked Attorney General King
To Investigate Legality of Public Funds for Private Virtual School
Santa Fe, NM- Legislative leaders in the New Mexico House and Senate have signed a letter to New Mexico Attorney General Gary King, asking him to investigate the legality of using state funds appropriated for public education, to pay for out-of-state, for profit private online charter schools. Two programs, the K-12 Virtual Schools and the New Mexico Connection Academy, are specifically in question for their product and service agreements with the New Mexico Virtual Academy Council.
Democratic Legislators believe that these product and service agreements are not in compliance with provisions of New Mexico laws, within the Charter School Act and State Procurement Code. Section 22-88-4; sub-section 4 states, “The Governing body shall not contract with a for-profit entity for the management of the charter school.”
If charter schools are subject to the New Mexico State procurement code, both New Mexico Virtual Academy and the New Mexico Connection Academy would appear to violate code by entering into contacts without following required provision of New Mexico law.
“Our funding for public schools is already in jeopardy enough to even think about allowing this violation of state law to continue,” says Representative Mimi Steward (D-Bernalillo-21). “When we take money out of the classroom and put it in the pockets of out-of-state, for-profit corporations, we hurt New Mexico’s students. When we grant money for charter schools, we appropriate for things like school textbooks, desks and teacher salaries. When a virtual academy receives the same appropriation per student, most of that money just goes from funding our school to becoming profits for an out-of-state corporation. That is not only wrong, it is illegal.”
Senator Tim Keller said, "In these times of tight education funding and the shortage of jobs, we need to ensure that every dollar stays with our kids and doesn't get siphoned out of state."