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Lujan Grisham says she’d halt PED appeal of education ruling

SANTA FE — Democratic gubernatorial nominee Michelle Lujan Grisham would halt a planned appeal of a judge’s ruling in a landmark education funding lawsuit, her campaign announced today.

Public Education Department officials told the Journal late Monday the state planned to appeal the decision by District Judge Sarah Singleton, which was released late last week.

However, Gov. Susana Martinez is barred from seeking a third consecutive term in office and will step down at year’s end.

Given that backdrop, Lujan Grisham’s announcement signals that — if she is elected in November — such a legal fight would be halted in January, when the new governor takes office.

“For too long, our education system has failed our children, educators, families and communities, drastically undermining our economy and our public safety while straining our overburdened social services,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement.

Her general election opponent, Republican Steve Pearce, has not yet said whether he would continue with an appeal if he’s elected.

“As the court battle goes forward, Steve Pearce remains committed to taking action as governor to fix New Mexico’s broken education system and addressing the serious problems the judge points out in her decision,” his campaign spokesman Kevin Sheridan said in a statement.

In her 75-page ruling, Singleton said New Mexico has not been meeting its constitutional obligation to provide a sufficient education for all students — especially those characterized as at-risk.

She left it up to the state to determine specifically how to comply with the ruling, but said a plan must be in place by April to meet certain deficiencies identified by the court.