After Frank Rogers lost custody of his son Cole* in a divorce, he said Cole’s education was left in the hands of his ex-wife—and the New Mexico Public School system. To his dismay, Rogers would later discover that the Las Cruces (LCPS) school district to which he had entrusted his son had completely failed him.
“It’s one of the worst, if not the worst, public school systems in the country,” Rogers said of LCPS.
As Cole progressed through the district’s public schools, attending Booker T. Washington Elementary School, Sierra Middle School, and Centennial High School, Rogers said he kept track of his academic progress.
Now a senior in high school, Rogers said, Cole’s academic record is a testament to the lack of quality teaching and basic care that he received from the schools that were supposed to serve him.
“When he was in grade school, I went to see his math teacher because he had failed a test,” Rogers said. “The problem was, many of the multiple-choice questions had no right answers.”
After Cole’s teacher ignored his concerns, Rogers said he took the test to the Department of Education in Santa Fe. “I asked them, ‘Why is my son failing? What the hell is going on?’ Nothing ever happened, and I was looked at as the ‘crazy parent.’”
Over the years, Rogers said that Cole “failed a lot.”
“I have all of his records until this year, because he turned 18,” Rogers said. “The court gave his mother sole discretion over his education because she has a degree in education—yet he’s failing constantly.”
Cole was also viciously bullied throughout middle school, and the school allegedly did nothing to stop it.
“He was hurt twice in the same week at Sierra Middle School,” Rogers recalled. “A rock was thrown on the playground and hit him in the face, splitting his lip open. I wanted answers, so I drove up to Las Cruces from El Paso and requested a report.”
He continued, “When they finally gave it to me, the top of the report said, ‘Do not release this page to parents.’ And under that, where the report stated that Cole had been [accidentally] hit in the face with a rock by another student, it said ‘not against school policy.’”
IWF reached out to Las Cruces Public Schools regarding Rogers’s allegations, but no representative responded to requests for comment.
Just as nothing was ever done to address Cole’s failing grades, Rogers said, nothing happened to the student who threw the rock. When Cole entered high school, however, Rogers alleged that the Las Cruces schools went from passively refusing to address his son’s failure to actively covering it up.
“When he was in high school, school records were showing that he had 30 to 40 absences per year, and no one would tell me why,” Rogers said. “At the end of the year, I pulled the records again, and even though I had gotten 30 notifications of absence that year, the records now showed that he had only been absent five times.”
Rogers spoke with his son’s teachers, principal, and school administrators, but received no answers.
“They tell you what you want to hear, not the truth,” he said. “They told me that he was a ‘great student’ but needed to focus more. Meanwhile, his grades were terrible.”
Finally, Rogers said, he discovered the truth on his own. His son had been getting up at five o’clock in the morning for cross country practice before school—even though Rogers had made it clear that if he failed his classes, he couldn’t participate in sports.
“I always had a policy of ‘academics before athletics’ with my son,” Rogers said. “But the whole time Cole was failing in school, he was also involved in cross country, track, and football. I told him that if he failed his classes, he couldn’t play sports—and was ridiculed in court for saying that.”
Not only were Cole’s absence records changed after the fact, but according to Rogers, his grades were adjusted as well.
“Until he turned 18, I would get email notifications saying that ‘your son has missing assignments, and his class grade is an F,’” Rogers explained. “I would log in to the class portal two days later, and his F is suddenly a B.”
Rogers said he believes that his son’s altered absence and grade records are directly connected to his athletic performance.
“He’s the team captain and he’s setting senior records,” Rogers said, indicating his belief that the school altered Cole’s grades so that he could stay on the team.
Now that Cole is 18, Rogers no longer has access to his records and is unable to keep track of the situation. His advice for other parents in the Las Cruces school district is to pack up and leave.
“Find another district. Parental rights don’t exist, the schools are failing, and I don’t see anything good coming out of Las Cruces,” he said. “I’ve never seen so much corruption.”
*To protect the identity of Rogers’ son, his name in this story has been changed.