After months of controversy over the four-day school calendar, a complaint against the New Mexico Public Education Department was filed on April 18, with 58 school districts listed as plaintiffs.

The governor’s statement regarding the lawsuit hasn’t gone unnoticed by local superintendents and representatives.

On April 24, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham stated, “This is another pathetic attempt to avoid accountability for delivering a high-quality education to New Mexico students, and we’re going to fight it.”

State Rep Gail Armstrong, who has attempted to fight the new PED push for instructional days over the required hours, believes school boards exist to make the best decisions for their communities.

“They are not expanding hours; they are getting the same amount of time in the classrooms they are just mandating more days through rule circumventing the legislative process,” Armstrong said. “If they really want to make a change, let’s start with smaller classroom sizes.”

In March, Armstrong formally invited Governor Lujan Grisham and PED Secretary Arsenio Romero to take a bus ride with rural students in Quemado and Reserve to gain firsthand experience of a high performing four-day school. Armstrong said she still hasn’t received a response to the invitation.

Tara Jaramillo, State Rep. and Socorro School board member, said she was deeply offended by the comment, “Educators have been the heroes during our most difficult times. During conflict, it is easy to blame others. The hard part is working with varied perspectives and finding solutions.”

Jaramillo believes the lawsuit is a legitimate avenue to address concerns when educational communities are ignored. She said the legislature responded to what constituents wanted, and the statute (HB-130) was passed in 2023, to guarantee their voices were represented.

“I have long since been a proponent of a five-day school week because of my concerns with meeting the socioeconomic and emotional needs of children; however, the community has made their choice,” Jaramillo said. “My deepest concern is circumventing the will of the legislature and statutes. My fear is that this will set precedent on all bills that are passed. Leaving a governor to change statute to meet their own agendas is not how our legislative body was intended to work.”

Socorro School Superintendent Ron Hendrix, who has been vocal about the PED mandate being unfair and unreasonable, was not impressed with the governor’s comment.

“I believe the lawsuit is our only response to the governor’s pathetic attempt to take decision-making away from local school boards and the New Mexico Legislature. Just because she thinks something is best, doesn’t make it so. She cannot ignore statute and legislative intent to institute a rule that won’t accomplish anything,” Hendrix said. “The reason she gave for making this tyrannical decision was to increase student performance in New Mexico. If every student in every four-day week increased to 80% proficient it would only increase proficiency in the state by 2.3%. She’s done absolutely nothing to hold five-day weeks more accountable in this ruling.”

The complaint against the PED is a temporary restraining order to stop the PED from mandating the calendar requirements. It requests the court declare the mandate illegal on the grounds that legislature already gave districts an hour requirement in 2023 with the HB 130.

According to court documents, the case was assigned to Judge Benjamin Cross in the Ninth Judicial District, but all judges have asked to be recused from the case.