BY MAIRE O’NEILL
When Luckie Daniels and her 15-year-old daughter Jaiya relocated to Los Alamos County for the 2022-2023 school year little did she think that within 13 months she would be embroiled in claims against Los Alamos Public Schools that she has submitted on three levels, local, state and federal.
Daniels, who is African-American, will tell you she has worked in advocacy, championing both civil and human rights for people who are marginalized for more than 30 years. Before her, her grandparents and family members were supporters and strategists of the Civil Rights Movement.
In September 2022, Daniels began asking about the District’s equity initiatives and programs already in place at LAPS. She found that information concerning the LAPS Equity Council, created under a state mandate that was very specific as to how the Equity Council would be established, who would belong and how the community would know all about it, was not readily available. At first, then Supt. Jose Delfin refused to provide Daniels with the documentation to prevent it from being “misconstrued”. Even when records requests were fulfilled following Delfin’s departure from LAPS, there was little to show in terms of Equity Council activity from its inception. See https://losalamosreporter.com/2022/11/06/laps-parent-requests-information-and-history-of-districts-mandatory-equity-council-activities-since-established-in-2020/
Daniels who is a DEIAB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility and Belonging consultant, was engaged by LAPS from January to May 2023 to provide guidance on equity under a proposal for services that was prepared by Daniels and approved by Supt. Jennifer Guy. During that timeframe, Daniels claims in her complaints that she was blocked from interacting with most LAPS staff and community partners. In addition, she claims that she was never notified of active discrimination claims being managed by the District including a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. See: https://losalamosreporter.com/2023/10/09/school-board-candidates-asked-about-department-of-education-office-of-civil-rights-action-on-2022-complaint-against-los-alamos-public-schools/
Concurrent with Daniels’s alleged struggles with LAPS administration, her daughter has reported the use of offensive language including the use of the “n” word in her presence and racial/ethnic micro-aggressions specifically directed at her since the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year at LAHS. Also, Daniels faced issues with the New Mexico Activities Association. See: https://losalamosreporter.com/2023/05/15/los-alamos-parent-and-athletic-director-file-formal-complaints-with-new-mexico-activities-association/ Daniels has had no correspondence from LAHS Athletic Director Ann Stewart or NMAA Administration since May 2023.
Daniels is alleging racial discrimination, race, and culture bias, workplace discrimination, gaslighting, deceptive hiring practices, and exclusion by LAPS. She has submitted complaints to LAPS administration, the state Public Education Department, ACLU New Mexico, and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights along with more than 120 historical documents and communications to support the claims she is making. Although the Los Alamos Reporter has access to the list of claims being made by Daniels in her complaint to all four agencies, as well as the large number of documents Daniels has accumulated, the Reporter will wait for those agencies to respond.
Meanwhile, Treesineu McDaniel, an investigator, has been retained by LAPS to investigate what she calls the main focus of Daniels’s allegations under racial and cultural discrimination in LAPS education programs and in Daniels’s role as a consultant, improper conduct by the District, and retaliation. McDaniel is employed by Fagen Friedman and Fulfrost LLP (F3). Daniels had asked specifically that her complaint against LAPS be investigated by an independent investigator.
McDaniel has notified Luckie Daniels that based on the information in the document Luckie provided as the complaint allegations, different policies and regulations will apply to the distinct types of allegations.
“The District has several policies and regulations regarding discrimination and grievances. For example, District Policy and Regulation 5130, Nondiscrimination, will likely apply to at least some allegations of racial and cultural discrimination in the educational environment. District Policy and Regulation 5132, Parent Grievance, may apply to some allegations regarding alleged conduct in the educational environment. District Policy and Regulation 1170, Equal Employment Opportunity, District Policy and Regulation 4070, Equal Employment Opportunity, and/or District Policy and Regulation 4051, Employees Grievance Procedure, may apply to certain allegations regarding your role as a consultant. Because the complaint allegations include multiple types of complaints with varied procedures, there is no single policy or procedure applicable here,” McDaniel said.
She also noted that at this time, she is unable to anticipate when the investigation will be completed “due to the number and variety of the allegations and volume of evidence and witnesses anticipated”.
ACLU New Mexico had initially expressed an interest in assisting Daniels with her complaint however, after she submitted the eight-page complaint and more than 120 related documents, Senior Civil Liberties Attorney Kristin Green Love told Daniels in a letter that after considering their resources and strategic priorities, they regret that they can’t represent her,
“In considering your cases and despite being deeply moved by the experiences you have endured, we evaluate our organization’s staff resources and existing litigation
commitments and do not currently have the resources that a systemic case like yours would require,” the letter reads.
As of today, Daniels’s complaint is in flight in three forums; the investigation by Treesineu McDaniels, the investigator retained by LAPS is underway; NMPED is working on identifying the process they will use for their investigation; and the Office of Civil Rights is doing its initial research of the complaint. Daniels is still seeking legal counsel to represent her.
The Los Alamos Reporter is privy to Daniels’s complaint and all the documents submitted in support of it. A meeting with Supt. Guy scheduled for Oct. 10 to discuss the complaint, the proposed North Mesa Housing and more was canceled due to an unexpected conflict for Guy. A subsequent meeting requested Oct. 17 has not been scheduled.
A recent letter from David Sumners, Senior Equal Opportunity Specialist for the Office of Civil Rights concerning Freedom of Information Requests for records regarding a complaint filed against LAPS with OCR by Miriam Jones, parent of a Taos soccer team player, indicates that there are eight other complaints that were filed with the OCR.
The Reporter will publish the results of any investigations and additional information regarding Daniels’s complaint as they become available.