Published On: Mon, Jun 29th, 2020

New Mexico judge hears landmark education lawsuit


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A landmark education lawsuit in New Mexico is comes before a new judge Monday.

First District Judge Matthew Wilson is considering dueling motions to dismiss or more aggressively enforce the 2018 ruling that found the state failed to provide New Mexico children a sufficient education.

The lawsuit filed by Hispanic and Navajo plaintiffs successfully argued that the state failed most schoolchildren, especially English-language learners and Indigenous and low-income children. It was filed in 2017 when Republican Susana Martinez was governor.

The 2018 verdict by the late Judge Sarah Singleton ordered the state to fix funding and inequality issues by April 2019.

Democratic governor Michelle Lujan Grisham supported the lawsuit during her gubernatorial campaign and dropped an appeal of the lawsuit that was mounted by Martinez’ administration.

Lujan Grisham has argued that her administration has taken significant steps to addressing the court’s order during the 18 months that she has been in office.

In asking Wilson to dismiss the case, Lujan Grisham said she is trying to maintain the independence of the Public Education Department.

New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty lawyers have argued that the state has not done enough and will ask the court to compel education officials to comply with the order.

Wilson will hear arguments remotely from the court in Santa Fe due to COVID-19 closures. Lawyers will appear via video chat.

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Attanasio is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Attanasio on Twitter.

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