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Las Cruces Public Schools settles lawsuit with retired principal alleging public records violations

kathy norris
Kathy Norris is the retired educator who settled with LCPS for allegations of public records violations.

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- The Las Cruces Public School District has paid a retired educator an undisclosed amount of money to settle a civil lawsuit which alleged the district violated New Mexico's public records laws.

In December 2018, retired LCPS principal Kathy Norris filed a request for information (under New Mexico's Inspection of Public Records Act) asking for the number of educators in the district who had been placed on paid administrative leave for a certain timeline.

According to Norris, the district said it would take eighteen months to fulfill that request, but she never received the information.

"Documents were produced during the Hearing that showed the District had provided the number of employees placed on administrative leave to Katie Bieri, a reporter for KVIA-TV within 15 days of her request for this information," wrote CaraLyn Banks, Norris' attorney, in a news release.

Last spring, Judge James Martin found "the District’s failure to furnish this information to Ms. Norris constituted an egregious violation of IPRA and was evidence of the District’s willful bad intent," Banks wrote.

Judge Martin's ruling from last spring concerns an effort by former educators to recall the school board. That matter is still pending.

Monday's settlement is from a civil lawsuit that concerns the alleged IPRA violation.

The district's attorney insists that the settlement does not indicate that LCPS is at fault.

"The District does not believe the state statute has been violated; however, rather than accruing substantial legal fees the District decided that to settle out of court was in its best interest," wrote a spokesman for Modrall Sperling, the law firm that represents the district.

Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is ABC-7’s New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend evening newscasts.


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