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Press Release

Readout from United States Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez’s Listening Session with Escuela de Padres at West Mesa High School

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Last week, Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, met with staff, students, parents, and families from West Mesa High School’s Escuela de Padres to discuss issues they are seeing in the school and the community and how the U.S. Attorney’s Office can assist the school with addressing students’ safety. U.S. Attorney Uballez was joined by Principal Michele Torres, Albuquerque Public Schools Police Department School Resource Officer Augustine Sena, and Albuquerque Police Department Deputy Commander Mark Torres.

U.S. Attorney Uballez met with Escuela de Padres’ staff first to discuss the most pressing challenges facing school administrators, teachers, and counselors, ranging from drug and alcohol usage to truancy.

Next, U.S. Attorney Uballez met with the parents, families, and students and answered their questions about school safety. Many from the West Mesa community were concerned about the safety of students in school and whether there would be consequences when a gun is brought to school. U.S. Attorney Uballez discussed Second Judicial District Attorney Sam Bregman’s zero-tolerance policy for guns in school zones, New Mexico State’s Bennie Hargrove Gun Safety Act that holds gun owners accountable if they do not store their firearms safely, and how the federal government steps in to charge the most egregious offenses. He also discussed the responsibility every member of the community bears in taking care of not just their own families but building community networks to surround students with support and to work with school administrators and law enforcement to keep the community safe.

Many community members expressed concern about drug use in schools and the rise in overdose deaths, citing research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and recent tests conducted by the New Mexico Environment Department on wastewater at 24 public high schools in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho. U.S. Attorney Uballez educated community members on the dangers of fentanyl—from masquerading as prescription pills, to its highly addictive properties, to how many other drugs, including marijuana, may be laced with fentanyl. Principal Michele Torres and teacher Carolyn Brown emphasized that the parents’ relationship with their children will make all the difference in preventing drug use and overdose deaths.

School Resource Officer Augustine Sena closed the meeting by speaking of his own connections to this community, and his commitment to the safety and success of all students at West Mesa.