ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Parents of students who attend Tierra Adentro said their children were left alone on a busy university campus, and it’s all because students were acting up.
One parent who spoke to KRQE News 13, but asked not to be identified, said about 16 eighth-graders were left behind during a field trip to the University of New Mexico. It happened last Tuesday.
“Some of the children panicked, started calling their parents and started calling the school,” one parent said.
Tierra Adentro of New Mexico is a charter school for sixth through 12th graders. It’s located on Central Avenue about a block away from UNM’s main campus.
Executive Director Veronica Torres told KRQE News 13 that her teachers take their students there often to work on class projects.
She said the same teacher, Francine Sanchez, made the same field trip with five other classes and didn’t encounter any issues.
Some of the students walked to the Student Union Building (SUB) on campus to use the restroom and get water, but when they came back the teacher and four other students were gone.
“I thought, ‘Okay is this a prank call? What’s going on?'” one parent said. “But then when I picked her up, she told me the story and I received the email from the art teacher saying that she actually did it.”
That email tells a different story. Sanchez wrote a letter apologizing to parents for leaving the students.
She said, “I was very reluctant to take this group of students as this class has very low participation and extremely inappropriate behaviors on a regular basis.”
She said that inappropriate behavior began on the walk to UNM. She claims some students walked through construction zones, climbed up trees and jumped on statues.
She said it got worse as they got on campus.
As for the students in the SUB, Sanchez said she gave them a specific time to meet back up and when they didn’t listen, “rather than going to hunt all the students down I decided to go back to class. This was a bad decision on my part.”
“She acted like they were a bunch of out of control animals and that that was part of the reason,” the parent said.
This parent said she’s not excusing the students’ bad behavior, she just wants to ensure something like this never happens again.
“There is no excuse. That should have never happened,” the parent said.
KRQE News 13 also spoke to some students who were there. They admitted they acted up during the trip, but said they didn’t think their teacher would leave them.
The school said the teacher waited for that group of students at the corner of Central Avenue and University.
The school would not say if Sanchez was punished, claiming it’s a personnel matter.
Torres told KRQE News 13 the school is reviewing its off campus field trip policy due to the incident.