Fifty-eight New Mexico school districts have found temporary relief in the battle with the New Mexico Public Education and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham over required school days.

On May 3, District Court Judge Dustin K. Hunter granted the plaintiffs, the New Mexico School Superintendents Association, and the school districts a temporary restraining order against the PED.

The Supreme Court designated Judge Hunter from the Fifth District to the case due to the recusal of all five of the Ninth District court judges.

“We certainly appreciated the court’s ruling. We feel like we’ve presented a strong case that the court agreed with,” Stan Rounds, Executive Director of New Mexico Superintendent Association, said “So now we wait for next Monday and see how that goes.”
According to court documents, the judge granted the restraining order based on the administrative rule 6.10.5 NMAC on school instruction time requirements of hours made effective July 1 2024.

The decision was also based on sworn allegations that plaintiffs, families and staff would suffer imminent and irreparable injury, loss, or damage without the restraining order. According to the documents, the threatened harm to the plaintiffs outweighs any potential harm the temporary restraining order might cause the defendants.

Rounds said that the rule harms the operations of many school districts that are turning in school budgets to the PED and trying to get contracts out to teachers.

“Our position as you see in our filing is that there needs to be the ability to make decisions locally, and to assure that the practice of the school district aligns with the needs of those children in that community,” Rounds said.

The temporary restraining order now prohibits the PED from requiring 180 days for school year budget submissions for ten days with a court date set for Monday, May 13 at 1 p.m.

“For the local districts that are going through their budgeting and are struggling with the mandate for the 180 days. It gives them relief at this time and takes us to that hearing next on Monday, which really will determine whether or not that continues while this matters litigated.” Rounds said.

He said he believes if the court decides to move to an injunction at the hearing, it would keep things as they are now until the litigation is over and allow schools to move forward with preparing for the next school year.

The rule originally proposed by PED included an extension of school days to 180 total days from the 1,140-hour requirements stated in statute and a requirement that at least 50% of school weeks have five instructional days. This new calendar proposal followed HB 130, which allowed for hours, not days, and was signed into a bill on March 17, 2023.