About a dozen Taos County residents gathered at the bureau of elections Thursday (May 28) to file petitions seeking the electoral recall of Taos Municipal School Board members Arsenio Córdova and Lorraine Coca-Ruiz.
Members of Citizens for Quality Education, an unincorporated association, have spent weeks preparing to file the paperwork. A release from the organization states the group waited until the end of the school year to file the petitions “in an effort not to disrupt the Taos education process any more than it already has been this spring.”
The petitions allege instances of “misfeasance or malfeasance” in office by both members. Instances of malfeasance include discriminating against employees based on their race or sex, creating a hostile work environment for district employees and breaching confidentiality regarding individual students. Examples of misfeasance the petitions list include the members violating the Open Meetings Act, violating board hiring and procurement policies, and interfering with the duties of the superintendent. Córdova and Coca-Ruiz did not immediately return messages requesting comment.
The allegations on the petitions are general, but Julia Armstrong, the attorney representing Citizens for Quality Education, said the group will submit supporting documents when a District Court hearing is set. According to state law, the county clerk has five days to file the petitions in District Court, and the court must set a hearing date within 10 days of receiving the documents. A judge will examine “the issue of sufficiency of the facts alleged” to ensure recall advocates have sufficient legal reasons to initiate a recall election.
If the court approves the petitions, Citizens for Quality Education can begin collecting signatures of voters in the board members’ respective districts. The group must collect signatures from a third of the number of people who voted in the members’ elections; the signatures must be compiled within 110 days of the “initiation date” in order for a recall election to proceed.
Former school board member Beau Schoen was among those who filed the paperwork Thursday (May 28). He said he is disappointed in the board members’ conduct, and he disagrees with the board’s decision to bring Roberto “Bobby” Gonzales back as interim superintendent. Schoen was among the board members who voted not to renew Gonzales’ contract in 2002, during Gonzales’ first stint as superintendent. Schoen said the board is doing a disservice to the community.
“I’m appalled at what’s been going on,” he said.