Yazzie-Martinez vs. New Mexico: Judge rules public education system still has work to do

Miranda Cyr
Las Cruces Sun-News
Wilhelmina Yazzie of Gallup, New Mexico filed a lawsuit against the state of New Mexico because she believed her son was not being given the tolls necessary to succeed through a public education.

LAS CRUCES - The state of New Mexico needs to continue working to provide equal education opportunities to students, a district judge ruled Monday.

District Court Judge Matthew Wilson heard motions from both sides in the Yazzie-Martinez vs. New Mexico case. The landmark case from 2018 found the state was not providing equal opportunities to all students, especially those who are low-income, Native American, English learners and students with disabilities.

The state had moved to dismiss the case, but attorneys' arguments that the public education system had already made enough changes that it didn't need to be monitored further didn't sway the judge.

Wilson said he recognized the state had taken actions to provide more resources for underserved students, but decided that the court will continue to evaluate how well the state is working to ensure all students are college and career ready.

News:Education funding at risk as New Mexico Legislature meets in special session

On the other side, plaintiffs asked to judge to allow them to create a plan for the public education department because they argued the state had not fulfilled the full scope of the court’s orders from 2018.

Wilson ruled that developing an in-depth plan before the state has been given a chance to try to fix the issue on its own would be premature. He ordered the plaintiffs and the state to gather more data to help the the court and both parties have a better understanding of what needs to be changed in the education system.

Following that discovery, Wilson said he'll reconsider the plaintiffs' motion.

“This is not a punishment for the state to develop the necessary plan in order to comply with this court’s ruling,” said Gail Evans of Yazzie's defense counsel during the hearing. “It’s simply the smart thing to do … Without a plan, we are going to continue this scattershot approach.”

Miranda Cyr, a Report for America corps member, can be reached at or @mirandabcyr on Twitter. Show your support for the Report for America program at