SANTA FE (KRQE) — The state has decided not to split a Four Corners school district and instead will assign staff as watchdogs protecting student and parent rights, the Public Education Department announced Friday.
The decision rejects a push by Kirtland parents to break up the
Central Consolidate School District, which sprawls across 2,800 square miles of tribal and private lands press against the Colorado and Arizona state lines. The district is bordered on the east and south by the Farmington and Gallup-McKinley County districts.
"This decision was not made lightly or easily,” state Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera said in a statement released by the PED. “In the end, the most relevant factor is the lesson we teach our students; we need to overcome our differences, not divide ourselves."
Complaints against the district received by the PED over the last eight months have come largely from the Kirtland area and included allegations Central violated the state Open Meetings Act.
PED personnel now will monitor the district's public meetings for at least the next six months to assure compliance with state law.
Future violations observed by PED staff could lead to the state taking over district finances, overseeing some district operations or suspending the Central board of education, the PED statement said.
The PED also held a three-hour public hearing in Farmington in May to air the issues with the current district and a proposed new district centered on Kirtland. The boundaries proposed for the district raised numerous civil rights issues involving students living on the Navajo Nation, according to the PED.
PED also encouraged the district to hold more board of education meetings in
Kirtland, and the board's next meeting is scheduled there on June 19 .
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.