Taos school re­tains char­ter

The Taos News - - FRONT PAGE - By Jesse Moya jmoya@taos­news.com The Taos News

Fol­low­ing a le­gal bat­tle with the New Mex­ico Pub­lic Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment, the Taos In­ter­na­tional Char­ter school has been cleared to keep its char­ter for three more years.

Af­ter be­ing de­nied a char­ter re­newal by the Pub­lic Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sion, Di­rec­tor Nadine Vigil took ac­tion and be­gan her case to save her school.

The state de­nied the school’s char­ter de­spite Taos In­ter­na­tional’s re­cent progress. The school’s PARCC test scores rose dra­mat­i­cally from pre­vi­ous years, and Taos In­ter­na­tional also im­proved to a C grade from the Pub­lic Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment, a jump from the pre­vi­ous year’s F grade.

“You never give up,” Vigil said. “If you be­lieve in some­thing, you do it.”

Vigil had been work­ing with her stu­dent body for five years, and for the past three she has had a full rep­re­sen­ta­tion of all the grades in her K-8 school. For the past three years, the school has proved its model of teach­ing works for stu­dents.

“That’s all we were ask­ing,” Vigil said. “We just asked for that time to grow.”

The school was fea­tured on the Pub­lic Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment’s list of schools most im­proved in PARCC pro­fi­ciency for 2017.

In De­cem­ber, the Pub­lic Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sion de­cided not to re­new the school’s char­ter, an ac­tion which was af­firmed by New Mex­ico Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Christoper Ruszkowski. Af­ter an ex­ten­sive ap­peal process, Taos In­ter­na­tional was granted a three­year char­ter on the con­di­tions that the school main­tain a C av­er­age grade with the PED and af­firm its

des­ig­na­tion as an In­ter­na­tional Bac­calau­re­ate school, ac­cord­ing to Vigil.

Dur­ing the hear­ing and ap­peals process, par­ents turned out in sup­port of the school and con­tinue to keep their chil­dren en­rolled. Most par­ents at­tribute the school’s suc­cess to the bilin­gual em­pha­sis of the char­ter and the tightknit to­geth­er­ness among teach­ers, staff and stu­dents.

“You would never see any other school in our com­mu­nity where the school’s staff mem­bers are out­side ready to help your child get off the ve­hi­cle and guide them safely to the cafe­te­ria no mat­ter what the weather brings, rain or shine and snow or freez­ing cold,” said Taos In­ter­na­tional par­ent Rhonda Vigil.

Nadine Vigil said her en­roll­ment has de­clined since the sit­u­a­tion un­folded but that a ma­jor­ity of her stu­dents and par­ents de­cided to stay and help the school along.

“My hus­band and I were dev­as­tated upon hear­ing about the pos­si­ble school clos­ing,” said Taos In­ter­na­tional par­ent Julie Romero. “We de­cided to stand strong and sup­port the school un­til the very end. We are so proud of all the progress that has been made and (ec­static) that TIS is open.”

Taos In­ter­na­tional School is cur­rently en­rolling stu­dents in grades K-8 for next year’s school year.

The New Mex­ico Pub­lic Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

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