Coalition Of N.M. Private Schools Seeks Tax Support

A coalition of New Mexico private schools has announced it will challenge a state Supreme Court ruling that ended the schools’ access to public funds.

In November, the court ruled unanimously that a state program that allowed private schools to use taxpayer dollars to purchase textbooks and other equipment violated the New Mexico Constitution. That document contains a provision that prohibits any use of public funds by private schools.

“It is clear that private schools in New Mexico have control of what instructional materials will be purchased with their allocation of instructional material funds,” the court ruled. “Private schools benefit because they do not have to buy instructional materials with money they obtain by tuition or donations and they can divert such money to other uses in their schools.”

The New Mexico Association of Non-public Schools claims that the ruling is a form of discrimination and has asked the state high court to reconsider its ruling in Moses v. Skandera

Jeanette Suter, who represents the Catholic Diocese of Gallup, said that Catholic schools face revenue shortfalls and may have to raise tuition to make up the difference.

Legal observers say the New Mexico Supreme Court is unlikely to agree to review the ruling.