I hope Las Cruces Public Schools teachers have good focusing skills. A lot of distracting things are flying around above them. For example:
- There is an effort by a group called Enough! seeking to recall school board members Maria Flores, Terrie Dallman and Ray Jaramillo, whose positions would expire in 2021.
- For the other two positions, there is an election Nov. 5 with several candidates vying.
- Superintendent Gregory Ewing resigned, effective Sept. 9.
- LCPS recently agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a suit against the district by former Head Start facilitator Lillian Duran.
- Former human resources director Elizabeth Marrufo sued the district for discrimination and wrongful termination.
- There is an outstanding lawsuit against the district by former employee Kathy Norris.
- Former Desert Hills Elementary principal Jamie Vance sued the district for discrimination, after the New Mexico Human Rights Bureau found no probable cause in her claim with them.
- Former public information officer Jo Galvan filed a claim with the state Workforce Solutions department after she was terminated by Ewing.
- Former executive assistant Tina Gonzalez filed a human rights complaint.
- Other potential claims could come from Ewing himself. In his resignation letter to the state education department, Ewing said he planned to file human rights complaints against the district for gender-based discrimination and retaliation. Ewing’s letter, written by an attorney, said the district is “put on notice” not to destroy all manner of records of communication regarding him, and that the letter itself is a request under the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act. The letter states Ewing would drop his claims if the schools paid two years of his salary in a lump sum. He added that, if the school system wished, he would serve the district on a consultant basis at an hourly rate commensurate with his $180,000 salary.
- LCPS is suing Trinity Properties for $772,000 for overpaid rent in a dispute over an agreement in which the district rented building and land for 10 years with an option to buy.
- After naming deputy superintendent Steven Sanchez as acting superintendent in Ewing’s absence, the district then announced it would bring in Karen Trujillo to be interim superintendent after Sept. 9. Trujillo, a Las Crucen and New Mexico State University graduate, had served for about six months as New Mexico’s Public Education Department Secretary before Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham terminated her in July.
That adds up to a lot of chaos and distraction.
It also adds up to a lot of money.
If even some of the employee claims and suits turn into settlements in the price range of the one for Duran, it could easily cost the district more than $1 million, not including attorneys’ fees. No matter how the separation with Ewing turns out, it will likely cost the district at least a quarter of a million dollars. And with Trinity, the district believes it spent $772,000 it shouldn’t have.
All of that comes to about $2 million.
I’m sure the district (meaning us taxpayers) could do a lot more productive things with $2 million.