About twenty former educators and school advocates hope to recall every member of the Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Educators.
"These violations must stop," said attorney CaraLyn Banks, who represents the group called 'Enough.'
"I don't think there is any evidence that we violated the Open Meetings Act," Ed Frank, the president of the board, told ABC-7.
The group told ABC-7 that they plan to file a petition to recall board members within the state of New Mexico. If a district judge determines that they have proved "malfeasance and misfeasance in violation of oath of office," the judge will allow them to collect signatures, Banks told ABC-7.
The group will then have 110 days from a "date of initiation" to gather signatures representing 33 percent of the number of votes for each district from the last school board election, Banks said. If they can do that, the issue will be on the November ballot.
In the presentation (linked above), Banks made multiple allegations, including that board members improperly handled the Columbia Elementary School situation.
She said her numbers are based on public records requests from the district. According to Banks:
- The number of high level administrators in the district has increased from 25 in the 2015-2016 school year to 39 today (68 percent increase in positions)
- Management salaries totaled almost $3.4 million in the 2015-2016 school year and total almost $5.7 million today
- That the district's legal fees have increased in recent years ($218,000 in the 2016-2017 school year, $584,000 in the 2017-2018 school year)
"There's been nepotism and favoritism," Banks said. "Just look at the number of people hired from Georgia."
Superintendent Dr. Greg Ewing formerly worked at the Cobb County School District in Georgia. The group criticized his hiring of Judith McNeil, a former principal in that district. Now, she is a consultant for LCPS, a spokeswoman confirmed.
"The extra cost that was spent on administrators could have hired 30 more teachers," Banks said.
"We are doing an incredibly better job at managing our money than we have in the past," President Frank said.
At 9:48, the district sent this statement to ABC-7:
“The attorney who spoke tonight appeared to have been accompanied by a few disgruntled former employees. The information they presented was not accurate, and — as the board president previously stated — the fact that they are former employees might help to explain why they are disgruntled.”
“With regard to Columbia Elementary, that was an inherited problem. The entire decision-making process was properly noticed, and discussed in open session. The board has been fully transparent throughout the decision-making process. Experts were consulted, presented their findings in open meetings, and the board publicly agonized over this decision; it was not an easy one to make.”
Note: A member of "Enough" contacted ABC-7 on Wednesday to clarify the numerical findings in their powerpoint. This article has since been updated.