November 14, 2014
The Honorable Hanna Skandera
Secretary of Education
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Dear Secretary Skandera:
This letter is in response to New Mexico’s May 23, 2014 request for an extension of flexibility under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA flexibility), so that New Mexico may continue to implement ESEA flexibility through the end of the 2014–2015 school year.
Our team has reviewed New Mexico’s request and, pursuant to section 9401(d)(2) of the ESEA, I am pleased to extend New Mexico’s ESEA flexibility request for one year, through the end of the 2014–2015 school year. My decision to extend New Mexico’s ESEA flexibility request is based on my determination that ESEA flexibility has been effective in enabling New Mexico to carry out important reforms to improve student achievement and that this extension is in the public interest.
I have determined that five of New Mexico’s six monitoring next steps have been adequately addressed through submission of documentation and other information. However, New Mexico must continue to work with the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to ensure it and its local educational agencies (LEAs) report all required State and local report card elements. At the time New Mexico submits its request for renewal, New Mexico must submit a plan for how it and its LEAs will update report cards to ensure compliance with all required report card elements in time to issue report cards in the fall of 2015.
This letter also provides my approval of the amendments to Principles 2 and 3 that New Mexico proposed that align with the requirements of ESEA flexibility. A summary of New Mexico’s approved amendments is enclosed with this letter, and New Mexico’s amended request will be posted on ED’s website.
After receiving approval to implement ESEA flexibility, New Mexico requested additional waivers that ED offered of the following requirements: (1) ESEA sections 1116(a)(1)(A)-(B) and 1116(c)(1)(A) and the corresponding regulatory provisions that require each LEA and the State educational agency (SEA) to determine adequate yearly progress for all schools and LEAs, respectively; and (2) ESEA sections 1113(a)(3)-(4) and 1113(c)(1) and the corresponding regulatory provisions that require an LEA to serve eligible schools under Title I in rank order of poverty and to allocate Title I, Part A funds based on that rank ordering. I granted those waivers for a two-year period on June 15, 2012. Pursuant to section 9401(d)(2), I am extending the waivers of these requirements through the end of the 20142015 school year, because they have been effective in helping New Mexico carry out, through ESEA flexibility, reforms to improve student achievement and because they are in the public interest. In implementing these waivers, New Mexico must continue to comply with the assurances contained in my letter of June 15, 2012. For example, New Mexico has assured that it will report on its State report card, and ensure that its Title I LEAs report on their local report cards, performance on the “other academic indicator” for elementary and middle schools.
I remind New Mexico that the SEA must implement ESEA flexibility consistent with its approved request, and must submit any amendments to ED for review and approval. If New Mexico wishes to make additional amendments to its ESEA flexibility request, information regarding that process can be found at: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/esea-flexibility/index.html. ED will review and approve amendments that align with the principles of ESEA flexibility.
New Mexico continues to have an affirmative responsibility to ensure that it and its districts are in compliance with Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and age in their implementation of ESEA flexibility. These laws include Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
I am confident that New Mexico will continue to implement the reforms described in its approved ESEA flexibility request and advance its efforts to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students. If you need any additional assistance to implement your ESEA flexibility request, please do not hesitate to contact Jessica Skrebes at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your commitment and continued focus on enhancing education for all of New Mexico’s students.
Deborah S. Delisle
cc: Leighann Lenti, Deputy Secretary of Policy and Program