Farmington — A district court judge has ruled that a teacher fired by the Central Consolidated School District is entitled to a discharge hearing before the school board.
District Judge Karen Townsend issued her decision Jan. 30 after a petition was filed Jan. 2 by the National Education Association of New Mexico, the Central Consolidated Educational Association and April Baisan against CCSD and Superintendent Don Levinski.
Baisan was working as a science teacher at Shiprock High School but was terminated in November after she did not allow a female student to use the restroom during a school lockdown on Oct. 30. The student could not hold it and urinated on herself in the classroom.
The school was placed on a lockdown so local law enforcement officials could conduct an unannounced drug sweep that lasted nearly two hours.
Baisan requested the opportunity to speak before the school board concerning the termination but the board declined to hear the grievance and denied her a discharge hearing after meeting in executive session during a regular school board meeting on Nov. 19.
The board also decided that Levinski should continue to handle the matter.
In the petition filed in January, both the union and Baisan requested a discharge hearing and cited state law that outlines the procedures for such hearings.
According to state law, a local school board or the governing authority of a state agency may discharge a certified school employee only for just cause.
Townsend ruled that the district "breached" its mandatory, non-discretionary duty to follow the mandates of the New Mexico School Personnel Act. She said the act requires the district to provide Baisan with a discharge hearing before the local school board.
The district and Levinski can file a response to the petition by Feb. 21, Townsend wrote.
"We have no comment on the writ itself," CCSD spokesman James Preminger said Tuesday in an email.
In a separate email, school board vice president Matthew Tso said the union's and Baisan's actions are "very disturbing" because it forces the student, her family and other students to "relive a nightmare,"
"I'm very sorry that such (a) shameful and disgusting event ... happened in one of our schools and will work to ensure that such actions never happen again in our schools," Tso said.
Ewa Krakowska, director of the National Education Association of Northwest New Mexico, said the union is "satisfied" with the decision and that due process includes a hearing in front of the school board.Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @nsmithdt on Twitter.