Complaint filed against CCSD board member

The complaint was filed by CCSD Superintendent Don Levinski who was placed on paid leave last year by the school board.

Joshua Kellogg
Board member Ruthda Thomas participates in a public meeting at the Central Consolidated School District Shiprock Administration Complex on Nov. 12.

FARMINGTON – A complaint has been filed in district court against Central Consolidated School District Board of Education member Ruthda Thomas by Don Levinski, the CCSD superintendent placed on paid leave by the board more than a year ago.

The complaint was filed in the 11th Judicial District Court on Oct. 13 and challenges Thomas’ right to hold office as the CCSD board member representing District 5 since she allegedly lives in another board district.

A copy of the complaint alleges that Thomas lives in a home with her husband Leroy Thomas in Kirtland, which is in District 1 — the district board President Randy Manning is currently representing — and not at a home near the Sansotee Chapter House listed on voter registration paperwork, which is in District 5.

Thomas denies the claim in the complaint, which she described as “very crazy.”

She said in a telephone interview this  afternoon that she lives in a home about one mile west of the Sanostee Chapter House with her husband and 12-year-old son, who is enrolled at Newcomb Middle School.

Thomas believes she is the target of the complaint because she was the third and deciding vote in favor of placing Levinski on administrative leave and appointing Colleen Bowman as interim superintendent during a Aug. 18, 2015, meeting. Thomas was elected to the CCSD school board on Feb. 3, 2015.

Manning, Thomas, and board Secretary Christina J. Aspaas voted in favor of placing Levinski on leave.

Eleanor K. Bratton, the Albuquerque attorney representing Levinski, said in a telephone interview the complaint and petition demanding that Thomas prove she lives in District 5 was filed because any decision made by the school board regarding the possible termination of Levinski's contract is not valid if Thomas is illegally serving on the board.

“Thomas is one of the board members that has been adamant about getting rid of Mr. Levinski without having to buy out his contract,” Bratton said.

Bratton added the school board is attempting to terminate Levinski's contract without providing just cause.

The complaint claims Thomas does not reside at the address where she is registered to vote.

A physical address of “one mile west of the Sansotee Chapter House” and a Kirtland P.O. Box is listed on Thomas’ voter registration form and on her declaration of candidacy paperwork filed with the San Juan County Clerk’s Office, according to County Clerk Debbie Holmes.

The website for the San Juan County Assessor’s Office lists the Kirtland home cited in the complaint as being owned by Thomas' husband.

Ruthda Thomas said she and her husband own the house and her daughter, who attends San Juan College, lives there.

A CCSD special board meeting is set for Tuesday morning in the Shiprock board room where a discharge hearing for Levinski is scheduled to take place with possible action to discharge or reinstate his employment, according to the meeting agenda.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.