LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - Three Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Education members targeted for recall filed for an expedited appeal Tuesday with the state Supreme Court, seeking to block a judge's ruling allowing for a recall election.
A statement issued by the school district confirmed the appeal of District Judge James T. Martin's June 11th decision in which he found probable cause to believe the trio likely committed "malfeasance in office," which allows for their removal under the state's Recall Act.
The malfeasance cited by Martin involved allegations by recall supporters that board members Terrie Dallman, Maria Flores and Ray Jaramillo all violated New Mexico's Open Meetings Act and Inspection of Public Records Act.
While Martin said there were "sufficient facts and evidence" to support claims that both acts were violated, the school district complained the judge was unfair because he did not properly apply the "rules of evidence or proof" during a two-day court hearing on whether to allow the recall.
The three board members and the school district have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
If Martin's ruling is upheld by the state's high court, the county clerk would be required to set a date for the recall election, which then establishes the timetable for signature gathering on recall petitions.
The recall effort is being led by a group made up of 20 former educators and school advocates that calls itself "Enough."
Ironically, that group has also filed an appeal of Martin's ruling, claiming it doesn't go far enough.
In addition to alleged violations of open meetings and public records laws, "we believe that (Judge Martin) should have also considered the other grounds that were presented as recallable events," said CaroLyn Banks, a lawyer representing the recall advocates.
The other grounds contended by Banks include board members allegedly violating their legally-required duties and responsibilities, as well as some of the school district's own policies.