Over the past week, Freedom Families United released an undercover video appearing to show a 2022 New Mexico School Boards Association conference training where the trainer, Andrew Sanchez, made remarks that “parental rights end when you send your kids to public school.”
After the Piñon Post’s request for comment to the New Mexico School Boards Association (NMSBA), the organization’s executive director, Joe Guillen, a former Española School Board member, has issued a response, decrying the video as “clearly mischaracterized” and affirming that the NMSBA has not “advocated for a diminished role of local control or parental rights in determining local educational policy and content.”
The full response from Mr. Guillen is as follows:
Thank you for your message and for sharing the subject YouTube video. Let me begin by assuring you the New Mexico School Boards Association (NMSBA) values and recognizes the important role parental participation and engagement play in the success our schools and students in New Mexico. We encourage our members to make parent involvement a central part of their community outreach efforts to help ensure their policies and programs reflect and meet the needs of their students.
A little background on the process we utilize in selecting breakout sessions at each of four major conferences. Prior to each conference we issue a request for presentation proposals which is distributed to numerous officials, agencies and law firms involved in public education. Upon receipt of presentation proposals we select approximately 18 and place them in three concurrent time slots allowing school board members to pick and choose those to attend among the various topics. See the attached listing of training sessions for our Annual Conference held in Albuquerque last December where the subject session was presented. You will note the wide range of training topics we attempt to offer.
Andy Sanchez, is a well-known and longtime school attorney with over 25 years of experience with the Cuddy & McCarthy Law Firm and more recently with the Himes, Petrarca & Fester Law Firm. He has presented at our conferences regularly on a host of school related topics. We felt the topic of his presentation was very timely given the recent adoption of new social studies standards by the NM Public Education Department.
The presentation, which the website video clearly mischaracterized, focused on the current federal and state laws and the court cases on the role of local control and parents in the curriculum development and review process. The presentation did not discount the role or value of local control or parents in the educational process. To be clear, neither NMSBA or the presenter advocated for a diminished role of local control or parental rights in determining local educational policy and content. Many of those in the audience who were present for the entire session, were complimentary of the information presented. While the session lasted approximately 60 minutes, the website video picked 2.5 minutes of the presentation to attempt to make a point clearly unrelated to the purpose and content of the presentation.
NMSBA remains focused on the topics that most impact students and teachers—ensuring every classroom is staffed with a highly qualified teacher; increasing broadband internet access to close the ‘homework gap;’ supporting historically disadvantaged students; supporting students with disabilities and mental health needs; and addressing the learning loss stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sanchez’s talk appears to have come from a 9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. slot on December 3, 2022, at the conference titled “Parent Attempts to Opt-Out of Curriculum and Teachers, including a Review of CRT and Parent-rights.” According to the conference schedule, around 80 people were in attendance. The full schedule for the conference was provided by Mr. Guillen, which is linked here.