New Mexico School Discipline

This includes two types of data: discipline and enrollment.

Discipline Data

This data includes all disciplinary incidents reported by school districts in New Mexico to the state’s Public Education Department. In working with this data, we found it to have several limitations, which we note here. We also recommend reading the methodology post that was published along with the story.

The data was extracted from the state’s public schools database, called the Student Teacher Accountability Reporting System, and covers the 2010-11 to 2021-22 school years. The data was acquired in June 2022 through a public records request made by New Mexico In Depth and ProPublica.

At the time the data was received, reporting for 2021-22 school year was not yet finalized and therefore the disciplinary data for that year is incomplete in this file. Data for the 2020-21 school year is complete, but there are many fewer disciplinary actions than previous school years because of school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ProPublica and New Mexico In Depth used this data to identify disproportionate rates of expulsion and referrals to law enforcement among Native American students in New Mexico. One district, Gallup-McKinley County Schools, played an outsized role in this disparity. The analysis focused on the 2016-17 to 2019-20 school years.

The Gallup-McKinley County Schools superintendent disputed our findings. He asserted that a much smaller number of students had been expelled, although that is contradicted by the district's reports to the state and to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

The data is self-reported by districts, and the state told ProPublica and New Mexico In Depth that it validates the data. However, over the four-year period the news organizations found roughly 20 cases in which a school district, including Gallup-McKinley, recorded few or no disciplinary incidents for the first several months of a school year, despite reporting significant numbers in the rest of the year.

In addition, many of the disciplinary records involving pre-kindergarten students appear to be errors. The race of the students in those records are mostly Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian, although very few such students are enrolled in the state. Our analysis excluded pre-kindergarten incidents.

Each record in the database represents a disciplinary action against a student. During the time period we analyzed, if a student faced multiple types of discipline for a single incident (e.g., both arrested and suspended in response to a fight), schools were instructed to record only the most severe punishment, according to STARS manuals from this period. (Starting in the 2022-23 school year, which is not covered in this database, the STARS manual indicates that the state has changed how multiple types of discipline are recorded for a single incident.)

If the same student was disciplined for multiple incidents over the course of a school year, they appear as separate records in the database. There are no unique student identifiers in the data; it cannot be used to calculate how many students were disciplined.

This download contains a copy of the STARS manuals for the 2017-18 and 2019-20 through 2021-22 school years. The manual includes a data dictionary for the discipline data. Other STARS documentation can be found on PED’s website.

Enrollment Data

The download includes a spreadsheet with enrollment data for the 2010-11 through 2021-22 school years, which includes breakdowns by racial group and counts of special education students and English-language learners.

Prior to the 2019-20 school year, the enrollment data survey date was at the end of the school year (June 30). For 2019-20 and later, the survey date is early in the fall semester (Oct. 1), and enrollments of five or fewer are masked.

The enrollment spreadsheet was compiled using STARS data received from a public records request and PED’s website. More recent enrollment figures and breakdowns by grade can be found on the site.

New Mexico In Depth

Provided in collaboration with New Mexico In Depth

ProPublica & New Mexico In Depth

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Part of these collections:

Law Enforcement, Schools, New Mexico, Local Reporting Network, and New Mexico In Depth

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