RIO RANCHO, NM (KRQE) – Teens are afraid to get behind the wheel because of their driving instructor. News KRQE 13 learns more about what led to a driving school in Rio Rancho losing its license for six months.
16-year-old Mason Blanc was excited to learn how to drive. That changed quickly after he said his driving instructor, Francisco Sanchez, was verbally and physically abused. “It was just a really bad experience. He would yell at me all the time while driving, he would slap me in the arms sometimes,” Blaine said.
Complaints from students and parents to the state Department of Transportation led to an investigation into the old driving school in Rio Rancho. Blan continues, “He just made it look like I just could not do it. Whenever I felt confident he would just yell at me.”
The department found that Sanchez was behaving in an unethical manner and endangering the safety of the students. Mason Blanc said his first time driving behind the wheel with a sunscreen made him feel fear and discomfort. He decided to record his second meeting on his phone.
“It’s been five minutes in driving time and he’s already yelling at me. He yells on the phone when I’m behind the wheel and he calls me names. He called me a homophobic slander.”
At a hearing on Jan. 19, Sanz claimed in strange language that he meant strange. “Anyway, calling a queer student any meaning is inappropriate.” Said the hearing officer.
Mason’s mother says she was scared when she heard the recording. “It went further than just being unpleasant. I really felt it was offensive and I really felt it was dangerous,” Jamie Vachio explains.
There were several other complaints from parents and students describing similar experiences with Saenz. Vachio warns, “Do diligent research on the school because after the fact we found horrible reviews of this school at the Better Business Bureau and through Yelp and all sorts of other forms.”
The school license has been revoked for six months starting April 1st. Mason has some tips for other teens who are learning to drive. “It’s getting better, it’s. It’s going to look scary but it’s really getting easier and the more you do it the more confident you get.”
Sants needs to undergo gender sensitivity training, an anger management course and a teaching course to learn how to teach in a more positive, leading and professional environment for his students. Once Sanchez finishes his lessons and takes responsibility for his actions he can ask the suspension to stop early.