According to the New Mexico Public Education Department, four schools in the state are considered chronically failing and might have to close. Last week, PED officials announced that Hawthrone Elementary, Whittier Elementary, Los Padillas Elementary—all three of which are in Albuquerque—and Dulce Elementary School in Dulce have received “F” grades from education officials for at least the last five years. PED officials said the four schools will be undergoing a “rigorous intervention.” PED is now giving these schools four options going forward: provide novel learning techniques as a magnet school, significantly restructure, relaunch as a charter school or close permanently. KOB4 reported that a representative of the Albuquerque Federation of Teachers spoke against the ultimatum, saying the state should be extending learning time instead of removing staff that students are used to seeing. The schools have until January to choose an option, or one will be chosen by PED. The school districts are expected to submit a plan to the state by February, which will go into effect next school year.
Padilla Drops Out of Race
Sen. Michael Padilla officially dropped out of the race for lieutenant governor of New Mexico last week amid resurfaced claims of workplace harassment that were brought against him over a decade ago. Last month, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham publicly encouraged Padilla, the Senate Majority Whip, to drop out of the race over harassment claims leveled against him in 2006. According to court records, former subordinates at an emergency dispatch center in Albuquerque claimed Padilla made inappropriate comments toward them, including asking repeatedly for dates after being turned down. The city ended up settling the claims and Padilla stepped down from his position in 2007, despite his continued denial of the accusations against him. Lujan Grisham's choice to publicly condemn Padilla last month was questioned by state Republicans, who called the move “cynical” and “hypocritical” in a press release that showed a photograph of Lujan Grisham dancing with Padilla. In the statement, Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Ryan Cangiolosi claimed Lujan Grisham's condemnation of Padilla was politically motivated, and that she was trying to distract the public from her involvement in keeping a representative of Cuban descent from joining the Congressional Hispanic Caucus allegedly because of his political affiliations. Last week, Padilla announced that he would be dropping his bid for lieutenant governor, saying he did not want to “be a distraction.” It is unclear whether Padilla will resign from the Legislature or give up his leadership post.
Kirtland AFB Monitors 3 Nitrate Plumes
Air Force officials are keeping track of three nitrate plumes currently in the groundwater at Kirtland Air Force Base that are above allowable levels. While nitrates are harmful to humans, officials say all three plumes are contained within base boundaries and are far from any drinking well locations. Some of the plumes have been monitored since the ’90s, and officials say they pose no threat to human health. Nitrates are found in septic systems and fertilizers. They biodegrade over time, but high levels of nitrates can lead to “blue baby syndrome,” which can deprive an infant of oxygen and cause death.