Judge tosses claims in drama teacher's lawsuit

The Daily Times staff

FARMINGTON – A district judge dismissed last week some of the claims made by former Piedra Vista High School drama teacher Pat Cheney against the Farmington Municipal School District and its employees.


Judge Brad Dalley ruled in a Nov. 30 order that Cheney's claims of false arrest, malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress should be dismissed due to the school district's protections under the state's sovereign immunity law.

Dalley determined Cheney could continue to seek damages on allegations of wrongful termination and negligent supervision. Cheney could also proceed on claims that the school board violated the New Mexico School Personnel Act and injunctive relief, according to the order.

Cheney, 50, claims in the lawsuit filed March 3 that he was fired unjustly from Piedra Vista High School based on false accusations he used drugs with students involved in the school's drama program.

Cheney contends the district then made false accusations of embezzlement against him, which resulted in his arrest on June 19, 2014.

Cheney was briefly charged with felony embezzlement on allegations he stole funds from the Turano-Chrisman Performing Arts Center, but the charges were dismissed after the San Juan County District Attorney's Office determined the case against him likely would not succeed at trial.

Cheney seeks unspecified damages and injunctive relief in the form of immediate reinstatement to his former positions as a drama teacher and extracurricular instructor.