School Board Member’s Fate in Jeopardy
ESPAÑOLA – Residency questions are mounting for School Board Member Annabelle Almager and some community members are demanding her removal for breaking the law.
In 2013, Annabelle Ortiz Almager successfully ran for the Española School Board District 2 position while residing at her home, in the district, located on North Riverside Drive.
According to Rio Arriba County records, Almager sold that property in December, 2014 but has since failed to re-register at a new address. School Board President, Pablo Lujan noted that none of the school board members were aware of Almager’s situation until she mentioned living outside of her district at a recent meeting.
Pablo Lujan, told the Valley Daily Post “It is my understanding that Almager has every intention to move back into the district.”
However, the law is clear when it comes to residency and single-member school board district’s, like in Española. Under current New Mexico law statute 22-5-1.1: Members of local school boards in districts having a population in excess of 16 thousand shall reside in and be elected from single-member districts.
Although there is a strong possibility Almager is violating the spirit and intent of the law, she may reestablish residency in the district ending the matter. Failing that, removal of her from office will come at a cost to the Española School Board and Rio Arriba County. Current laws that govern New Mexico School Boards do not allow direct removal of a member by the School Board but they do allow for Almager to be recalled under New Mexico Constitution Article 7, Local School Board Member Recall, or to resign. In rare and extreme cases, the Secretary of Education can opt to seize control of the entire Espanola School Board to take action.
The Valley Daily Post attempted to speak with Annabelle Almager regarding her current living situation and plans to relocate back into her district. Almager had not issued a response prior to this publishing.