Francis Hahn

Francis Hahn

TAOS — Reports surfaced one night in November of a social media post depicting an image of a weapon with a message that read, “Don’t go to school tomorrow.”

Taos High School Principal C.J. Grace sent a text message to parents early the next morning, notifying them in-person learning and sports events would be canceled that day.

But Grace required teachers to show up in their classrooms.

Honors English teacher and local teachers union President Francis Hahn spoke out against the policy and was placed on paid administrative leave — prompting a state teachers union to accuse the Taos Municipal School District of unlawful retaliation and spurring Hahn’s students to initiate a petition demanding he be reinstated.

Taos police Chief John Wentz said a juvenile was suspected of posting the threat, and authorities took action “to ensure the alleged threat toward Taos High School could not be carried out.”

Shane Yountz, an attorney for the New Mexico Federation of Teachers, said Hahn had argued that potential safety concerns for students should extend to teachers as well, and he was “demonstrative” when he raised the issue with district administrators.

Taos Municipal School District Superintendent Dr. Lillian Torrez did not specify Hahn’s actions but said he demonstrated “behavior on his part.”

She was advised to not speak about “personnel matters” regarding Hahn, she said, adding, “when allegations arise regarding staff misconduct, the district takes it very seriously.”

The district has brought in an independent investigator to look into the matter.

Yountz noted “there were potentially lives in the balance,” as far as Hahn knew, “and if I think my life and the lives of others are potentially in danger, I might be more forceful than I would be about whether there’s enough chalk for the blackboard.”

He added, “State and federal law have a long history of protecting workers who are engaged in what’s called ‘concerted activity,’ and it’s against the law to discipline employees for engaging in ‘concerted activity’ for their own self-protection.”

Hahn issued a statement Tuesday that said, “I am cooperating fully with the district’s investigation and am hopeful that we can resolve our differences swiftly so that we can get back to providing the high quality education our students deserve.”

A version of this story first appeared in The Taos News, a sister publication of The Santa Fe New Mexican.

(2) comments

Jay Bird

Taos schools are so corrupt, parochial, and nepotist. Someone needs to shake up the utterly useless sh!!show. Now that they’re failing in the (useless) football game, maybe something can change. I had to pull my kid out. what failure

Robert Fields

We are sabotaging our teachers and school systems at a time when this country needs a better educated population more than ever before.

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