School board votes down survey aimed at studying student home life

Darrell Todd Maurina

The Clovis School Board voted Tuesday to reject a survey previously approved that would have questioned students regarding their sexual activity, drug and alcohol abuse, and guns in parents’ homes.
The 3-2 vote rescinded a Sept. 9 vote to conduct the survey at Yucca Junior High and Clovis High School. Board member George Banister, who was away on business at the last meeting, asked and received board approval to reconsider its decision to approve the New Mexico Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey.
“We need to spend our time educating our students and not delving into some of these personal issues that should be taken care of at home,” Banister said, noting that the survey would take away 2,000 hours of student instructional time and objecting to suggestions that the district might qualify for a government grant if it administered the survey.
“I don’t think our morals and values are for sale at any price, and it disgusts me to think that might be the case,” Banister said.
Superintendent Neil Nuttall said the decision to bring the survey to the board was his.
“I do not believe this is an immoral survey and I do believe this is an important survey to get information to address these concerns,” Nuttall said. “Unfortunately, we do have students who drink, who use drugs, and who get pregnant, and we do need information to address these concerns.”
The final vote had Lora Harlan and Terry Martin supporting the survey. Banister, Kennedy Merritt, and Mark Lansford opposed.
Martin suggested Nuttall consider a new survey that would provide the information Nuttall wanted without triggering objections. Nuttall said he would consider the option.