New Mexico

Las Cruces schools superintendent resigns effective Sept. 9, placed on leave until then

LCPS Superintendent resigns placed on...

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - Las Cruces Public Schools superintendent Greg Ewing tendered his resignation Tuesday, saying Sept. 9 will be his final day as head of the district.

The Board of Education, meeting in special session, voted unanimously to accept his resignation. The board then moved to place Ewing on administrative leave with pay until his departure.

The decisions came after two lengthy executive sessions that took place behind closed doors with the school district's legal counsel.

Ewing didn't publicly disclose a reason behind his resignation and board members didn't publicly discuss why they placed him on leave until then.

Stephen Sanchez was named by the board as the acting superintendent in the interim.

OVERVIEW: Dr. Ewing's past year in the district

September 2018: Columbia Elementary mold discovery

Just after classes began in 2018, the district discovered a severe mold problem was impacting the health of students and teachers Columbia Elementary.

"Any mold is a threat," said Bobby Stout in September, the executive director of the Physical Plant Department in the Las Cruces Public Schools. "Not just to students, but also teachers and administration."

The district made an emergency decision to move 400 elementary students to Centennial High School.

“Centennial High School had the space, the availability, and they were more than welcoming to having the children here, so it was a perfect situation for us to be able to transition the children,” said Ray Jaramillo in September, the LCPS School Board Member for district one.

January 2019: Parents frustrated by uncertainty of situation

At a town hall meeting in January, dozens of parents expressed their frustration with the district's temporary accommodation for the elementary students.

"It is not just an inconvenience," said Dawna Bleimeyer in January, who has a six-year-old. "It's an intrusive disruption."​

"My own son will be missing half of his elementary career because he is at a high school right now," said Victoria Franks, Columbia Elementary's assistant principal.

March 2019: Student vs. superintendent

Centennial High School's former student body principal told ABC-7 that he was temporarily suspended from his position as student body president following a passionate discussion between students and parents on March 11th.

"Mr. Superintendent, I know that you're coming after me," Castillo said, adding, "You're not going to get rid of me and you're not going to get rid of the voice of the students. Thank you very much."

"There may have been an investigation, but that is all I know," said board member Maria Flores. "We are not afraid to hear your voices," she said.

April 2019: Ewing helps transgender students

Superintendent Dr. Ewing was praised for outlining policies that serve transgender students, helping them feel welcome at whatever bathroom they choose.

"We're beginning to teach acceptance," said Superintendent Dr. Greg Ewing in April. "Accepting all students for who they are."

April 2019: Group seeks to recall board members

A group of about 20 former educators called 'Enough' approached the board with plans to recall most of the members. They alleged nepotism, favoritism and mismanagement of money, among other allegations.

"These violations must stop," said attorney CaraLyn Banks, who represents the group called 'Enough.'

The district released this statement that night:

"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.”

May 2019: Recall effort moves forward, then stalls

After listening to both side's arguments regarding the recall, a Las Cruces judge found that there was "probable cause" that the board violated the Inspection of Public Records Act and the Open Meetings Act. 

Allegations of misconduct involved an IPRA request filed by ABC-7.

"In court today, we understand that channel 7 had asked the same thing and actually got a list of the number of people put on administrative leave for the past three years," Norris said. "That was a surprise to me."

Initially, his ruling allowed the group to move forward in recall efforts, but both sides ultimately appealed the ruling. It is now in the hands of the New Mexico Supreme Court.

If the state's highest court rules in favor of the recall efforts, 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.


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