Your help needed to defend Estancia Valley Classical Academy

The Estancia Valley Classical Academy based in Moriarty is a unique institution in New Mexico. It is both an excellent public charter school and a bastion of interest in the American Founding, the thoughts of ancient Greece, and free market economics.

Unfortunately, those unique features are not popular in New Mexico, nor is its affiliation with Hillsdale College.

While details are provided below, what you can do is get in touch with your Public Education Commissioners and tell them to support, not hinder, the efforts of this popular and successful school of choice. You can find the PEC members with their email addresses here. (note Commissioner Millie Pogna passed away recently but is still listed).

Here is the text of a brief note you could send:
What is needed right now is for NM citizens who are willing to fight for justice, due process, and personal liberty to put pressure on the PEC (and other state government officials) to the extent that they cease the capricious and arbitrary wielding of their administrative power and allow this model of school choice to thrive.

Details directly from supporters of EVCA can be found below:

The School has been continually blocked by arbitrary administrative actions of the Public Education Commission during the past eight months. On December 7, 2016, the PEC Chairperson, Patricia Gipson, against the recommendation of the Charter Schools Division for a full 5-year renewal, moved to deny the EVCA’s charter altogether without allowing any discussion on the matter. She cited unspecified violation of federal law.

The EVCA right away began appeal proceedings to the NM Secretary of Education, contending that the actions of the PEC constituted arbitrary and capricious treatment of the school. In February, the PEC decided in a closed meeting to give the EVCA a three-year renewal, while still citing an unspecified violation of federal law in their 22 February letter. The PEC soon afterward changed the reason given for withholding the full 5-years. With now even more evidence of arbitrary, capricious, and now illegal action by the PEC, the EVCA continued to pursue their appeal. The appeal process was protracted by delay-tactics, emanating from the PEC tactics (e.g. last-minute appeals for rescheduling and paperwork not submitted on time,) from its original February date to June 9th
Besides the obvious unnecessary difficulties and expenses inflicted on the NM public by such bad behavior on the part of the PEC, there is more. The EVCA Foundation had recently finalized plans for constructing a school facility which will save the tax-payers considerable sums, but instead of being able to move forward with construction expeditiously, these unnecessary and illegitimate delays are costing the public significantly in terms of extended lease payments, increasing interest rates, and legal fees.
These actions also delay the EVCA’s move from leased facilities to a lease-purchase option when the new building is occupied.

During this time, the EVCA is asking for some charter amendments, the most important and timely of which is an increase in its total enrollment cap, a cap which better fits its current student population growth and, which matches the size of the new facility. Back in May, the PEC told EVCA representatives they would not approve a cap increase until the Public School Facilities Authority approved the new construction plans. While it would have been respectful, and helpful, to communicate this to the EVCA prior to their traveling to Santa Fe, the EVCA representatives retooled to seek approval at the June 10th regular meeting of the PEC.

At that meeting, Commissioner Peralta surprised EVCA representatives with the announcement that no action on the cap increase could be taken at this meeting either, because the PSFA had still not approved our plans. He blamed this situation on the “fact” that the EVCA’s developers had failed to respond to requests from the PSFA. This “fact” turned out to be completely false as there had been numerous communications between the PSFA and the EVCA’s developers during the time period specified by Mr. Peralta. Incredulous, but undaunted, the EVCA has continued to move forward.

Since the reasonable thing to do was to call a joint, in-person, meeting between representatives of the PSFA, the PEC, the developers, and the EVCA to clarify this situation, the EVCA GC president composed an invitation to such a meeting and emailed it to Commissioner Peralta who had offered to broker such a meeting. The Developer, Rachel Matthews, in fact met with PSFA representatives that very day and several times since. The result of the meeting is that the PSFA has approved the EVCA’s construction plans. In the meantime, the PEC did not put the EVCA on the July 20th agenda, citing that the EVCA had not done anything further since the June meeting to obtain PSFA approval. Again, a patently false statement.

Just this last week, the EVCA Team has fought successfully to get the amendment request back on the July 20th agenda. However, the PEC has now countered with this statement “the school [the EVCA] [still] does not have all required approval documents (specifically citing the CID approval as missing).” EVCA officials are unable to find where the law or statute states that the PEC cannot approve an enrollment cap increase without CID approval. And, even if this were the case, why was this not brought up in the meeting with PSFA?

From all this, it is absolutely clear that the PEC is set against the EVCA. Instead of serving the public (the EVCA represents the educational choice of over 230 NM families and nearly 500 students,) they are seeking any means possible by which they might sink this excellent public school. What is needed right now is for NM citizens who are willing to fight for justice, due process, and personal liberty to put pressure on the PEC (and other state government officials) to the extent that they cease the capricious and arbitrary wielding of their administrative power and allow real “options for parents”(the CSD’s given name) to thrive.

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