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The lawsuit was filed on Sept. 23

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FARMINGTON — The mother of the teenage girl killed in the 2017 Aztec High School shooting has filed a civil lawsuit against the Aztec school board and superintendent, claiming they were negligent in the sexual harassment and abuse her daughter suffered from a former Aztec high school teacher.

Jamie Lattin, the mother of Casey Marquez, filed a lawsuit against the Aztec Municipal School District Board of Education and Aztec Superintendent Kirk Carpenter on Sept. 23 in the Eleventh Judicial District Court.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of funds for personal injury damages including pain, suffering and emotional distress, according to the complaint.

Lattin declined comment on the case.

Carpenter declined comment, citing pending litigation. Board President Roger Collins has not responded to requests for comment. 

Students Marquez and Francisco "Paco" Fernandez, both 17, were killed during the Dec. 7, 2017, early morning shooting at Aztec High School.

Accusations in lawsuit

The lawsuit accuses the board of education and Carpenter of negligent operation of Aztec High School, that they had a duty to ensure students would be free of "sexual" predation by staff and teachers at district schools.

It also claims female students were at risk for predation by Coulter based on information the district possessed in 2016.

The complaint contains a lot of detail regarding James Coulter's work at Aztec High School.

The former math and ethics teacher is accused of two felony counts of criminal sexual contact with a 17-year-old Aztec high student in 2015, according to court documents. The accuser in the criminal case is not Marquez.

Coulter was also the assistant athletics coach for the AHS girls cheerleading team. Marquez was a cheerleader.

Coulter is incarcerated at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center awaiting a trial that has not yet been scheduled.

The former teacher is accused in the lawsuit of sending inappropriate "sexualized" and intimate messages to Marquez's phone.

The lawsuit states Coulter admitted to physical contact with Marquez, including hugging her, and kissing her in her vehicle on school grounds. He admitted to at least two incidents of alleged criminal sexual contact, according to court documents.

The inappropriate relationship allegedly caused "much of her anxiety and stress"  for Marquez.

Coulter was a teacher at AHS from 2012 through May 20, 2018. His educator's license was revoked on Nov. 9, 2018.

The former teacher reportedly was attracted to teenage students and formed an attachment to Marquez and attempted to pursue an "inappropriate romantic relationship" with the student from Fall 2017 until her death.

Coulter allegedly told law enforcement he "refrained" from having a sexual relationship with Marquez and had offered to get her "high" on marijuana and be her roommate when she graduated high school.

The former teacher was given a Letter of Direction as discipline in 2016 for inappropriate conversations with a student and failing to maintain professional standards.

State education investigation

The inappropriate text messages were found on Marquez's phone on Jan. 26, 2018, by Lattin after the New Mexico State Police released the cellphone to the mother.

The text messages were brought up when the New Mexico Public Education Department attempted to revoke Carpenter's licenses as an educator.

Carpenter was accused of failing to report inappropriate contact between Coulter and a female student during the 2016-2017 school year.

The hearing officer in the case proposed recommended dismissing the notices of contemplated actions filed against Carpenter.

The PED investigation was launched in May 2018 after district officials informed the department of the messages involving Coulter and Marquez.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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Editor's Note: Dates have been modified in the story.

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