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Yazzie/Martinez plantiffs heading back to court soon

Laura Hernandez
Learning Policy Institute

The Yazzie/Martinez lawsuit is one of the biggest education court cases the state has ever seen. But advocates say, since its settlement, nothing has substantially changed. Lawyers from the Center on Law and Poverty hosted an information session recently to talk about their preparations to head back to court.

Back in 2018, the plaintiffs of Yazzie/Martinez proved the state violated its constitutional obligation to provide sufficient public education to at-risk students, who amount to over 80% of the state’s student population.

Attorneys with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty said, while the state has made some efforts, there are still many gaps. That includes the teacher shortage crisis, insufficient funding for schools, and no additional resources for bilingual students or those with disabilities.

"Legislative staff , the year round staff, not the legislators themselves necessarily, have said ‘We funded Yazzie/Martinez’. But we know that for the students who are at the heart of this case, who are in classrooms as we speak, nothing has changed. And until we see those things and how they translate to outcomes, then we’re throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks" said Alisa Diehl, senior education attorney at the Center on Law and Poverty, who said there’s a disconnect among the governor’s office, the Public Education Department, and the legislature when it comes to collaborating and planning.

Attorneys have been working closely with the Martinez team to get ready to potentially head back to court in the next few months.

This coverage is made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners.

Taylor is a reporter with our Poverty and Public Health project. She is a lover of books and a proud dog mom. She's been published in Albuquerque The Magazine several times and enjoys writing about politics and travel.
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  • In 2018, a judge ruled in the Yazzie/Martinez lawsuit that New Mexico was failing to provide an equitable education to students who are low-income, Native American, have disabilities or are English language learners. This means that the state is in direct violation of the education clause in the New Mexico State Constitution.