Jefferson Montessori Academy held an election for its Council of Trustees on Tuesday.
Jared Rostro was elected for seat No. 2 and Deanna Weston-Helmer was re-elected for seat No. 3.
Helmer ran unopposed on the official ballet, but was challenged early in the process by Ray (Teddy) Escobar, until Escobar was barred from participating in the election—even after the Carlsbad Municipal School district indicated he was improperly excluded.
JMA parent Jessie Hubbling told the Current-Argus that some parents still planned to write-in Escobar’s name after voicing complaints about his exclusion.
“It is my understanding that he cannot be elected this way but we are hoping it will be a symbolic gesture to show the direction parents want to move with the JMA COT,” Hubbling said.
While the council did receive write in votes for Escobar, COT Vice President Cathy Baker said those votes could not be counted during the ballot counting on Tuesday.
JMA Administrator Kelli Barta sent an official statement to the Current-Argus which stated: “The JMA Governing Council is following its long standing election processes (as approved in its charter), and we are proceeding with the election in accordance with the Governing Council’s bylaws and laws pursuant to JMA Policy 1150.”
According to the New Mexico Charter School Act, state-chartered charter schools are exempt from school district requirements and responsible for developing individual written policies and procedures.
While JMA is able to follow its own rules and procedures parents like Hubbling have expressed concern that they are not being followed correctly.
Escobar was prevented from running for the council because his wife, Sabrina Escobar is a PTA board officer.
According to the COT handbook “Jefferson Montessori Academy PTA/PTO officers and their direct family may not serve as trustees.”
Hubbling argued that the policy does not prevent direct family members from running for the council in a complaint letter sent to CMS administration.
Sabrina Escobar had planned to step down if her husband won the election, the letter stated.
“It is very difficult to find good volunteers for our PTA and it is inappropriate to assume Ms. Escobar should step down prior to her husband actually being elected to the COT,” the letter stated.
CMS stated that Escobar should have been allowed to run as long as his wife stepped down from the PTA as of Sept. 30, in its response to the complaint.
JMA sent a response letter to the District signed by Barta, stating that the charter school’s attorney found its decision to exclude Escobar was sound.
To read the full response letter, visit www.currentargus.com.
Claudia Silva is a reporter from the UNM Local Reporting Fellowship. She can be reached at [email protected], by phone at 575-628-5506 or on Twitter @thewatchpup.