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AFT New Mexico Secures Victory for Educators Wrongfully Terminated for Exercising Protected Rights

Peñasco Independent School District Found to have Violated Educator Rights

July 29, 2023

Peñasco – American Federation of Teachers New Mexico President Whitney Holland, and Peñasco Federation of United School Employees, Local #4285 (PFUSE) President, Darren Griego, released the following statements:

“Today we are celebrating this important victory on behalf of our members and educators within the Peñasco Independent School District. The judgement by the 8th Judicial District Court is an important reminder that educators have statutory protections under New Mexico law and that engaging in protected activities is a protected right under those laws. Retaliation against hard-working educators has no place in our public schools and has no place in our State.

“Fighting to protect the rights of educators is at the core of what we do as unionists. We fight for safe and just working conditions so educators can teach students, support academic progress, and help build strong, healthy communities. Small, rural-serving districts are not exempt from the law. Our commitment to our members and the educators we represent will not waiver, regardless of how long it takes to achieve justice when an injustice has been committed. We thank the 8th District Court for their thoughtful ruling. It is my hope that each of these educators can find closure and healing with this judgement,” said Holland.

“After three long years, today is a day for educators in Peñasco and members of PFUSE to feel relief. The Court’s ruling helps to make each of these educators whole through back pay, awards for emotional distress, interest on lost wages, and attorney’s fees. However, the real tragedy is that these instances of retaliation should never have occurred, and our students and District lost out on years of instruction and support from these educators.

“I am thankful our union stood up for what is right and fought alongside us to protect our rights as educators, fighting for our careers as educational professionals. We are truly stronger together and we look forward to moving forward so we can continue to educate our students and support our wider Peñasco community,” said Griego.


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