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Cooper seeks re-election to LCPS Board of Education


Carol Cooper is seeking a second four-year term as the district 5 representative on the Las Cruces Public Schools (LCPS) Board of Education.

Cooper won the seat in 2019, taking 29 percent of the vote to incumbent Ed Frank’s 27 percent, Maria Pacheco’s 24 percent and Gloria Martinez’s 21 percent. Frank is running for the seat again in 2023, along with Cooper, Jose L. Aranda and Ernest B. Carlson IV.

The election is Tuesday, Nov. 7, with school board races for LCPS, the Gadsden Independent School District and Hatch Valley Public Schools and municipal elections in Las Cruces, Mesilla, Hatch, Sunland Park and Anthony, New Mexico. Early voting starts Oct. 10.

“It’ has been a very enriching experience” Cooper said about serving on the school board.

“We get along,” she said of the five-member, nonpartisan board. “There is no question; kids are the focus of what we do here. People’s political agendas are down the list of priorities. That has made us a pretty unified board. What we’re trying to do is what’s best for kids.”

The board voted unanimously in July to hire Ignacio Ruiz as the new superintendent of schools.

Ruiz is “doing a fine job,” Cooper said. “He’s very knowledgeable. I don’t think he’s met up with a lot of surprises.

“My concern really does come down to engaging families,” Cooper said. “That’s always got to be in the back of our minds. We need to see some improvement in that,” she said, noting that LCPS’ six community schools are helping parents and families “feel comfortable when they come to the school.”

With his background as a teacher and administrator, Ruiz has connected with families that are “reluctant to participate” with schools because of language or socio-economic issues, she said. He “has experienced that and knows what to do.”

Cooper also had praise for former superintendents Ralph Ramos and Karen Trujillo.

“If it’s not for kids’ benefit, it’s not a topic,” Cooper said was Ramos’ approach to being superintendent. Ramos retired last April and was replaced by Ruiz. Trujillo preceded Ramos as superintendent, serving until her death in February 2021.

Cooper said Trujillo would have been “a true leader” like Ramos if she had continued as superintendent.

“She loved kids,” Cooper said. “That love inspires working together to focus on the kids.”

Cooper said she is also grateful to attorney Elena Gallegos of the Walsh Gallegos law firm in Albuquerque, which represents LCPS, because everything the board does has to follow the law, and Gallegos “knows what laws govern us.”

For example, a state district court judge’s ruling in the Yazzie/Martinez lawsuit in 2018 mandated that every student “will have an opportunity for a good education,” Cooper said. “That’s the law.”

Cooper said she was the only board member to vote against adopting Policy JBD, Gender Inclusive Schools, in 2022 because some of its language is confusing.

“I don’t think gender needs to be dealt with in this policy,” Cooper said. “I don’t think educators should introduce that kind of confusion. Every single person is different from every other person. We should accept every person for the individual he or she is. It’s our diversity that makes us very wealthy.”

That inclusiveness should be demonstrated for students by their parents, teachers and government leaders, she said, but it doesn’t need to be set in law.

“I’m a true conservative,” Cooper said, questioning that having a U.S. Department of Education is constitutional. Oversight of public schools should be local, she said.

Cooper said she also is concerned about bullying in schools.

“It damages a student who is affected by it,” she said. “It’s abuse.” The victim “lives with it the rest of his life,” Cooper said. “It’s really important that we shut it down as much as we can.”

Cooper said LCPS’ partnership with the Las Cruces Home Builders Associations’ on the Building My Future program that inspires high school students to pursue construction careers through hands-on experience is a good example of what schools can do to help students discover their talent.

Education works when students learn “to support themselves and their families,” she said. “They are our future. We should take really good care of them and prepare them to take care of themselves. We have that responsibility.”

Visit www.lcps.net/page/board-member-biographies-and-contact-information.