Thomas L. 'Tom' Sullivan, a distinguished New Mexico educator and adminstrator whose career goes back to 1974, presided over the closed-door hearing. Sullivan was appointed by Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart to act in lieu of the Questa board after Stewart suspended the board's authority on Nov. 12.
The mother of the student who made the allegations against the teacher said, "The small town cover-up has gone on long enough."
The former teacher, who was not identified by Sullivan or the reviewing panel, was placed on administrative leave during the 2018-2019 school year before being terminated.
Due to lengthy testimonies given on both sides, no decision was reached Thursday. Before adjourning the meeting, Sullivan stated that a decision would be reached and announced publicly at a board meeting within 20 days.
Santa Fe attorney Autumn Bergh presented the appeal on behalf of the defendant. Tony Ortiz, another attorney from Santa Fe, represented PED and Samantha Adams, as legal counsel for the Questa district, defended the district's decision.
The acting Questa school board today (Nov. 21) heard an appeal for reinstatement from a former Questa High School teacher who was terminated in August by then-Superintendent Michael Lovato for alleged sexual misconduct with a female student.