Parents frustrated after finding political campaign flag in classroom

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Parents say they’re frustrated after what started as an event to honor student leaders statewide, suddenly turned political. From campaign flags in a classroom to a speech about wearing masks — they believe it was not the right place or time to involve students.

The mom KRQE News 13 spoke to – whose family wishes to remain anonymous – says the flag was one thing, but the way students were talked to created a whole other problem. What started as a weekend for student leaders from across the state, quickly raised alarms with parents and students when they spotted a Biden campaign flag inside of a classroom.

“We had some kids from all over the state that came to Albuquerque for their top peers in the student councils for the state,” said Sen. David Gallegos, a Republican serving Eddy and Lea counties. “They brought them in there for some training and one of the children sent a picture back to the mom and not thinking through, but it had that sign in there.”

The event was put on by the New Mexico Association of Student Councils but was hosted at Albuquerque Public Schools’ Highland High. One student tells us after looking around, he did not see any flags beside the Biden flag.

“I don’t think that’s supposed to be there,” said the student. “I don’t think teachers are allowed to have that sort of paraphernalia up in their room.”

The family contacted state senator David Gallegos afterward. He started digging and questioning why APS didn’t catch that in the classroom.

“Being on the school board in Eunice, I know we’re not supposed to be campaigning in there. I told her even if it was a Trump sign, I would’ve had questions for you,” said Gallegos. “If it would’ve been a picture of President Biden, that’s okay. But to have a flag or banner, what it actually was, in the classroom, I just hope we’re not indoctrinating our students.”

The student tells us that flag wasn’t the only issue at the event held in Albuquerque last weekend. In fact, it started with a lecture reminding the high-achieving students to wear their masks, along with one line that offended many: “be grateful that we have this opportunity.”

“The whole weekend, they’re preaching and they’re harping, you know, you guys are the future leaders of this country and leaders of your schools and leaders of your communities, yet they feel the need to belittle us and keep harping on the same thing and treating us like children, in the sense that they don’t think we can follow simple instructions because that was the first time they said it that day, but it certainly wasn’t the last,” said the student.

The student also pointed out that while it is a privilege, many of them worked extremely hard to get to this all-state student council event, and being told to be “grateful” felt disrespectful. Sen. Gallegos says from the political paraphernalia to the talking down to students — he hopes in the future, organizers will rethink how they handle events.

“These were truly the cream of the crop for the State of New Mexico,” said Gallegos. “We need to go back to listening to the parents and students because that is who we serve.”

News 13 reached out to APS to ask their policy on the campaign flag being in a classroom. They said they’re looking into it. Gallegos also reached out to the district and the PED and tells us that it’s being taken care of, but he hopes they’ll think about these situations more going forward.