Monday, El Defensor Chieftain filed a public records request to review a complaint filed by Socorro Superintendent Ron Hendrix against New Mexico State Legislator and School Board member Tara Jaramillo.
The complaint was made public during a school board meeting last week, however, the board voted to appoint a third party to handle the “unknown complaint” as suggested by its legal counsel. During the same meeting, the board voted to go into executive session to discuss the complaint. It also voted to give Board President Dave Hicks the authority to handle procedural matters related to the next steps related to the employee complaint and/or grievance process.
Jaramillo was not present at the meeting.
Under the Inspection of Public Records Act known also as IPRA, El Defensor Chieftain was denied the request by Rhiannon Crespin, executive director of finance and personnel, for the Socorro Consolidated School District.
In a written statement to the newspaper, Crespin stated, “As you know, on October 23, 2023, you submitted to Socorro Consolidated Schools an Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) request. Specifically, you requested the following records: ‘Complaint by the Superintendent against Tara Jaramillo.’ Today, the District is responding to your request. Any responsive documents, to the extent they exist, have been withheld in their entirety because they are exempt under NMSA 1978 subsection 14-2-1 (C), letters or memoranda that are matters of opinion in personnel files. Cox v. New Mexico Dep ‘t of Public Safety, 2010-NMCA-096 paragraphs 20,21. The purpose of the exemption, according to Cox is to protect the employer/employee relationship from disclosure of any “letters or memoranda” that are generated by employer or employee in support of the working relationship between them. Id. paragraph 22. “Because Section 14-2-I(C) of IPRA describes entire letter or memorandum as exempt, the custodian is required only to separate exempt from nonexempt documents and make the latter available for inspection.” Henry v. Gauman, -NMCA- , paragraph 20 (A-I-CA-39549, June 30, 2023).”
El Defensor Chieftain will continue to follow the complaint as it progresses.
Editor’s Note: Albuquerque Journal Vice-President of Advertising Wanda Moeller contributed to this report.