United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING
PETITIONER'S MOTION TO REMAND
MATTER comes before the Court upon Petitioner's Motion to
Remand, filed October 11, 2018 (Doc. 13).
Having reviewed the relevant pleadings and the applicable
law, the Court finds that Petitioner's motion is well
taken, and therefore, the Motion to Remand is
GRANTED, and this action is
REMANDED to the First Judicial District
Court, County of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education, appeals the New
Mexico Public Education Department's
(“Respondent's”) decision mandating that
Petitioner divert 15% of its federal special education money
into early intervening services. Respondent concluded that
the percentage of African Americans in special education
services was “Significantly Disproportionate” to
students from other races, apparently pursuant to 20 U.S.C.
§ 1418(d) and 34 CFR § 300.646.
filed this appeal of Respondent's administrative decision
in the First Judicial District Court, County of Santa Fe, New
Mexico, on September 20, 2018. In the Notice of Appeal,
Petitioner wrote: “The Board of Education of Rio Rancho
Independent Schools, pursuant to Rule 1-074 NMRA and Sections
22-2-14(I), 39-3-1.1 NMSA, hereby gives notice of its appeal
of the New Mexico Public Education Department's Decision,
initially issued on June 29, 2018, regarding Significant
Disproportionality… and finalized on September 18,
2018.” The Notice of Appeal attached Respondent's
final decision, which provided that its “determination
of Significant Disproportionality… was issued in
accordance with federal law.” Doc. 1, Ex.
Motion for Stay filed contemporaneously with the Notice of
Appeal, Petitioner sought a stay or injunction of
Respondent's decision requiring it to transfer 15% of the
special education budget to early intervention programs.
removed this case to this Court on September 26, 2018. In the
Notice of Removal, Respondent asserted that this action arose
under the laws of the United States, and the Court has
originally jurisdiction pursuant to 28 § U.S.C. 1331
“as this action arises under 20 U.S.C. § 1418(d),
34 C.F.R. §§ 300.645 and 300.647.”
now moves this Court to remand this appeal to the First
Judicial District, arguing the case does not present a
federal question (Doc. 13). Respondent filed
a Response on October 25, 2016 (Doc. 14).
Petitioner filed its reply on November 8, 2018 (Doc.
15) and is now fully briefed.
parties agree that Petitioner does not assert a federal cause
of action on the face of the Notice of Appeal. Rather,
Petitioner filed this appeal in state court pursuant to NMSA
§§ 22-2-14(I) and 39-3-1.1(D), challenging an
administrative decision by the New Mexico Public Education
Department. Petitioner asserts that Respondent's
administrative decision was not supported by substantial
evidence and was otherwise arbitrary and capricious.
argues that this appeal raises no substantial federal
question. Because the issue appears primarily to be fact
based, and the manner in reaching the significant
disproportionality determination is left to the discretion of
the Respondent, the Court concludes that there is no
substantial federal question.
New Mexico Law.
matter is before the Court pursuant to NMSA §§
22-2-14 and 39-3-1.1. NMSA § 22-2-14 provides that money
budgeted by a school district “shall be spent first to
attain and maintain the requirements for a school district as
prescribed by law and by standards and rules as prescribed by
the department.” N.M. Stat. Ann. § 22-2-14(A).
“The department shall give written notification to a
local school board, local superintendent and school
principal, as applicable, of any failure to meet requirements
by any part of the school district under the control of the
local school board.” Id. A local school board
may appeal a decision of the Department to the state district
court pursuant to NMSA § 39-3-1.1. See NMSA
§ 22-2-14(I). NMSA § 39-3-1.1 allows for state
judicial review of state administrative decisions and
D. In a proceeding for judicial review of a final decision by
an agency, the district court may set aside, reverse or
remand the final decision if it determines that:
(1) the agency acted fraudulently, arbitrarily or
(2) the final decision was not supported by substantial