2013 New Mexico Statutes
Chapter 22 - Public Schools
Article 10A - School Personnel Act
Section 22-10A-28 - Appeals; independent arbitrator; qualifications; procedure; binding decision. (2003)
22-10A-28. Appeals; independent arbitrator; qualifications; procedure; binding decision. (2003)
A. A certified school employee aggrieved by a decision of a local school board or governing authority to discharge him after a discharge hearing held pursuant to Section 22-10-17 NMSA 1978 [22-10A-27 NMSA 1978] may appeal the decision to an independent arbitrator. A written notice of appeal shall be submitted to the local superintendent or administrator within five working days from the receipt of the copy of the written decision of the local school board or governing authority.
B. The local school board or governing authority and the certified school employee shall meet within ten calendar days from the receipt of the notice of appeal and select an independent arbitrator to conduct the appeal, or, in the event the parties fail to agree on an independent arbitrator, they shall request the presiding judge in the judicial district in which the public school is located to select the independent arbitrator. The presiding judge shall select the independent arbitrator within five working days from the date of the parties' request.
C. A qualified independent arbitrator shall be appointed who is versed in employment practices and school procedures. No person shall be appointed to serve as the independent arbitrator who has any direct or indirect financial interest in the outcome of the proceeding, has any relationship to any party in the proceeding, is employed by the local school board or governing authority or is a member of or employed by any professional organization of which the certified school employee is a member.
D. Appeals from the decision of the local school board or governing authority shall be decided after a de novo hearing before the independent arbitrator. The local school board or governing authority shall have the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that, at the time of the notice of intent to recommend discharge, the local superintendent or administrator had just cause to discharge the certified school employee. The local school board or governing authority shall present its evidence first, with the certified school employee presenting his evidence thereafter.
E. The hearing shall be held within thirty working days from the selection of the independent arbitrator. The independent arbitrator shall give written notice of the date, time and place of the hearing, and such notice shall be sent to the certified school employee and the local school board or governing authority.
F. Each party has the right to be represented by counsel at the hearing before the independent arbitrator.
G. Discovery shall be limited to depositions and requests for production of documents on a time schedule to be established by the independent arbitrator.
H. The independent arbitrator may issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and for the production of books, records, documents and other evidence and shall have the power to administer oaths. Subpoenas so issued shall be served and enforced in the manner provided by law for the service and enforcement of subpoenas in a civil action or in the manner provided by the American arbitration association's voluntary labor arbitration rules if that entity is used by the parties.
I. The rules of civil procedure shall not apply to the hearing, but it shall be conducted so that both contentions and responses are amply and fairly presented. To this end, the independent arbitrator shall permit either party to call and examine witnesses, cross-examine witnesses and introduce exhibits. The technical rules of evidence shall not apply, but, in ruling on the admissibility of evidence, the independent arbitrator may require reasonable substantiation of statements or records tendered, the accuracy or truth of which is in reasonable doubt.
J. An official record shall be made of the hearing. Either party may order a transcript of the record at his own expense.
K. The independent arbitrator shall render a written decision affirming or reversing the action of the local school board or governing authority. The decision shall contain findings of fact and conclusions of law. The parties shall receive the written decision of the independent arbitrator within thirty working days from the conclusion of the hearing.
L. Unless a party can demonstrate prejudice arising from a departure from the procedures established in this section and in Section 22-10-17 NMSA 1978 [22-10A-27 NMSA 1978], such departure shall be presumed to be harmless error.
M. The decision of the independent arbitrator shall be final and binding on both parties and shall be nonappealable except where the decision was procured by corruption, fraud, deception or collusion, in which case it may be appealed to the court of appeals by filing a notice of appeal as provided by the New Mexico rules of appellate procedure.
N. Each party shall bear its own costs and expenses. The independent arbitrator's fees and other expenses incurred in the conduct of the arbitration shall be assigned at the discretion of the independent arbitrator.
History: 1978 Comp., § 22-10-17.1, enacted by Laws 1986, ch. 33, § 25; 1990, ch. 90, § 5; 1991, ch. 187, § 8; recompiled as § 22-10A-28 by Laws 2003, ch. 153, § 72.
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