Lawsuit Against PED Delayed
A lawsuit filed by teachers unions against the New Mexico Public Education Department has been pushed back. First Judicial District Court Judge David Thomson granted PED's request for a delay in court proceedings last week. The nonjury trial, which was scheduled to go to trial in October, alleges that the department's teacher evaluation system is flawed and inaccurate. A joint statement, released by American Federation of Teachers New Mexico President Stephanie Ly and Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Ellen Bernstein called the system “abusive” and claims that the delay can be blamed on PED's “inability to comply with the Court’s orders for discovery and their failure to disclose critical information and data to AFT NM/ATF lawyers.” The statement also references recent changes to PED leadership and the evaluation system, saying the changes were “arbitrary” and were made to delay a final hearing. In June, controversial former Education Secretary Hanna Skandera stepped down from her position and was replaced by Christopher Ruszkowski as acting Secretary. Earlier in the year, PED made changes to its teacher evaluation system—reducing the value of students' standardized test results in the evaluation from 50 percent to 35 percent. The evaluation system remains under an injunction granted by Judge Thomson in 2015 until the trial ends, barring PED from using the evaluations to make employment, advancement and licensure decisions.