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FILED IN MY OFFICE

DISTRICT COURT CLERK


10/2/2015 9:23:48 AM
James A. Noel
Chris Peck

STATE OF NEW MEXICO


COUNTY OF BERNALILLO
SECOND JUDICIAL DISTRICT
LOUISE ADELSTONE
Plaintiff,
v.

Case No.

D-202-CV-2015-07663

BOARD OF EDUCATION of
ALBUQUERQUE PUBLIC SCHOOLS,
and JIM CHACHO, individually and
in his official capacity as former Principle
of Hoover Middle School,
Defendant.

COMPLAINT FOR VIOLATIONS OF THE WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION ACT,


INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS, TORTIOUS
INTERFERENCE WITH CONTRACTUAL RELATIONS, AND PRIMA FACIE TORT
COMES NOW Plaintiff Louise Adelstone, by and through her counsel of record, Youtz
& Valdez, P.C. (Shane Youtz, Stephen Curtice and James Montalbano), and bring this action for
damages arising from Defendants actions described below. Plaintiffs demand a trial by jury,
and allege as follows:
The Parties
1.

Plaintiff is a resident of Sandoval County and an employee of Defendant Board of

Education of the Albuquerque Public Schools (hereinafter APS) who works at Hoover Middle
School in Bernalillo County.
2.

Defendant APS oversees the operation of public schools in Bernalillo County,

New Mexico. Pursuant to NMSA 1978, 22-5-4(E) (2005), it has the capacity to be sued on
behalf of Albuquerque Public School District. At all times relevant, Defendant APS was
responsible for adopting and implementing the policies, customs, and practices of its employees

and agents, and overseeing their conduct. Although Defendant APS and the School District are
political subdivisions of the State of New Mexico, they are not arms of the state for Eleventh
Amendment immunity purposes. Daddow v. Carlsbad Mun. Sch. Dist., 1995-NMSC-032, 120
N.M. 97; Duke v. Grady Mun. Schools, 127 F.3d 972 (10th Cir. 1997).
3.

At all times relevant for this matter, Defendant Jim Chacho was the principal at

Hoover Middle School, and an employee of APS. He is now an assistant principal at Manzano
High School.
Jurisdiction and Venue
4.

This Court has subject-matter jurisdiction over this action as Plaintiff is a resident

of the State of New Mexico.


5.

Defendant APS regularly conducts business in Albuquerque, New Mexico and is

subject to personal jurisdiction in this Judicial District.


6.

Defendant Jim Chacho is a resident of Bernalillo County and is subject to

personal jurisdiction in this District


7.

Venue is proper in this District pursuant to NMSA 1978, 38-3-1 (1988) because

Defendants reside in this District and because the cause of action arose in this District.
The Facts
8.

Plaintiff Louise Adelstone is a long-time, highly decorated counselor at Hoover

Middle School. She has worked for APS for seventeen years, five of which at her current
position at Hoover Middle School. She holds a MA in counseling, and is a Nationally Certified
Counselor, a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and a Nationally Certified School
Counselor.

9.

During her tenure, Ms. Adelstone has received Counselor of the Year five times,

Staff Member of the Month eight times, the 2003 Spirit of Women Award for New Mexico and
the 2003 National Spirit of Women Award (as a result of which she was interviewed on the
Today Show).
10.

Also during her tenure at APS, Plaintiff Louise Adelstone started numerous

programs at the schools that she worked at, including but not limited to literacy programs, peer
mediation programs, Social Action Kids programs promoting community service, peer tutoring
programs, and student support groups.
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During her tenure, Plaintiff Louise Adelstone consistently received exemplary

employee evaluations.
12.

Defendant Jim Chacho became principal of Hoover Middle School for the 2013-

2014 school year. Almost immediately, his presence at the school began harming the interests of
the students and staff of Hoover Middle School
13.

Defendant Jim Chacho was frequently absent from work, was verbally abusive

with members of his staff including the Assistant Principal and Plaintiff Louise Adelstone and,
frequently, arrived at school for duty showing visible signs of intoxication.
14.

Indeed, on December 15, 2014, Defendant Jim Chaco arrived to work so

intoxicated that staff members contacted their union representative, who contacted the Assistant
Superintendent of Middle Schools. On that occasion, Associate Superintendent of Middle
Schools, Katarina Sandoval, came to Hoover Middle School and had Mr. Chacho drive to their
headquarters, and APS Human Resources personnel searched his office. Defendant Jim Chacho
did not return to work for the remainder of that week.

15.

Due to concerns about working conditions at Hoover Middle School, in February

of 2015, the Albuquerque Teacher Federation, a local of the American Federation of Teachers,
AFL-CIO, and the exclusive collective bargaining representative for staff employees at Hoover
Middle School, conducted an APS-approved climate survey of staff at Hoover Middle School
regarding Defendant Jim Chacho. The results of that survey were largely very negative
regarding his performance and professionalism.
16.

Plaintiff Louise Adelstone was very concerned that Defendant Jim Chachos

absences, erratic behavior and frequent intoxication could present a danger to the students at
Hoover Middle School and have a negative effect on their education.
17.

On March 3, 2015, at a staff meeting, the president of the Union presented the

results of the survey, which showed wide-spread dissatisfaction with Defendant Jim Chachos
performance. During this meeting, which was attended by some of Defendant Jim Chachos
friends, as well as other staff members, Plaintiff Louise Adelstone, concerned for the students
and staff at the school, spoke up regarding her issues surrounding Defendant Jim Chachos
malfeasance, including his attendance, his treatment of the Assistant Principal, and his favoritism
for some staff members and students.
18.

Immediately after communicating to those in the group regarding her beliefs

about Defendant Jim Chachos malfeasance, Defendant Jim Chacho began to take retaliatory
action against Plaintiff Louise Adelstone. Such action includes, but is not limited to the
following:
a.

Defendant Jim Chacho informed Plaintiff Louise Adelstone on March 10,

2015, that she needed to vacate her back, private office, so a social worker could occupy.
(Previously, she had maintained a visible desk in the main part of the office, and a separate,

private office where she could meet privately with students. Both are necessary and important
for her counseling services, for which she has received accolades).
b.

On March 11, 2015, Defendant Jim Chacho informed Plaintiff Louise

Adelstone that he had changed his mind, and now she needed to vacate the front desk and only
utilize the private office. Despite his claims that the front space was needed for the social
worker, there was a vacant office in the same area that he chose to ignore.
c.

During a March 18, 2015, meeting with Defendant Jim Chacho, the

assistant principal, and a union representative, Defendant Jim Chacho became agitated when
discussing the office change, and told Plaintiff that the matter was non-negotiable and that she
will never sit up front again.
d.

Defendant Jim Chacho, following the March 3, 2015, meeting, began

systematically isolating Plaintiff Louise Adelstone from other staff and students, eliminating her
job duties, and, in general, seeking to make it hard, if not impossible, for her to serve as a
counselor for the students at the school.
e.

Defendant Jim Chacho sought to have Plaintiff Louise Adelstone

transferred to another school, despite the fact that she has never received any form of discipline,
and has only had exemplary performance evaluations.
f.

Defendant Jim Chacho has created a hostile work environment for

Plaintiff Louise Adelstone through his bullying, erratic and explosive behavior and retaliatory
actions against Plaintiff Louise Adelstone.
19.

On or about March 20, 2015, Plaintiff Louise Adelstone communicated by email

with Donald Duran, President of the APS School Board, and Katarina Sandoval, Associate
Superintendent for Middle Schools, regarding the results of the survey, the failure of Defendant

APS to take appropriate actions as a result, and the further retaliatory actions Defendant Jim
Chacho took against Ms. Adelstone since she communicated her belief of his malfeasance to
third parties during the March 3, 2015, meeting.
20.

On April 7, 2015, Plaintiff Louise Adelstone was meeting in her private office

with a very upset and crying student whose grandmother had just died when Plaintiff Louise
Adelstone was handed a note by Defendant Jim Chachos secretary which stated that she was
required to report to Defendant Jim Chachos office right away. She told the secretary that she
was with a crying student and could not leave right away. Shortly thereafter, Defendant Jim
Chacho appeared at Plaintiff Louise Adelstones office to check on whether she had been lying
about the crying student.
21.

Plaintiff Louise Adelstone was not told what the purpose of this April 7, 2015,

meeting was. When she went to Defendant Jim Chachos office, she discovered that Defendant
Jim Chacho, APS Director of Counseling Leslie Kelly, and APS Executive Director of Human
Resources Karen Rudys were waiting for her. Also present was a union representative.
22.

Very soon it became apparent that the purpose of this meeting was to attack

Plaintiff Louise Adelstone in direct retaliation for her communications on March 3, 2015, and
March 20, 2015. Rather than address any of the survey results or Defendant Jim Chachos
malfeasance, Karen Rudys and Leslie Kelly pointedly questioned Plaintiff Louise Adelstone
regarding alleged paperwork issues (even though Plaintiffs practices had not changed in
seventeen years and she had never before been alerted to any deficiency) and her attendance at
district counselor meetings (even though Plaintiffs practices had not changed in many years and
she had never before alerted to any deficiency).

23.

During the meeting, Karen Rudys and Leslie Kelly also claimed, incorrectly, that

Plaintiff Louise Adelstone had issues getting along with other counselors, and directed her not to
participate in interviews of .5 FTE counselor for the upcoming school year, even though teachers
routinely participate in similar interviews.
24.

During this meeting, Defendant Jim Chacho claimed that Plaintiff Louise

Adelstone was routinely insubordinate. When pressed for examples, he listed a single incident
many months prior, during which Plaintiff Louise Adelstone had not been insubordinate and for
which she had never received any disciplinary action.
25.

During this meeting, Defendant Jim Chacho directed Plaintiff Louise Adelstone to

cease scheduling student/parent conferences and inviting teachers to those conferences, as she
had done for many years, and to cease teaching the elective course on tolerance that she had done
for many years (and, indeed, had developed the curriculum for).
26.

Also during this meeting, those in attendance from APS claimed that the reason

Defendant Jim Chacho had moved Plaintiff Louise Adelstones work area was due to concerns of
privacy. However, as noted above, Defendant Jim Chacho first directed Plaintiff Louise
Adelstone to vacate the back office and perform all of her counseling work in the open, front
area.
27.

All of the actions described above taken in the course of the April 7 meeting were

taken in retaliation for Plaintiff Louise Adelstones communications regarding Defendant Jim
Chachos malfeasance, and done with the intent to humiliate her and cause her emotional harm.
28.

Following the meeting, Karen Rudys was heard to say she wont be back,

referring to Plaintiff Louise Adelstone. This and other conduct by the participants of the meeting

confirm that the April 7 meeting was an attempt by Defendant Jim Chacho and Defendant APS
to force Plaintiffs Louise Adelstone to resign or quit.
29.

Following the meeting, Plaintiff Louise Adelstone was presented with multiple

versions of a memorandum allegedly reporting what occurred at the meeting. Each version
misrepresented what had been said and what had occurred at the April 7 meeting, and contained
rumors and inaccuracies. One version indicated that failure by Plaintiff Louise Adelstone to
comply with the new and retaliatory directives described above would subject her to further
disciplinary action, even though, in response to a question from Plaintiff Louise Adelstones
union representative, the APS parties indicated that this was not a disciplinary meeting.
30.

Since the April 7 meeting, and as a direct and proximate effect of the attacks on

her character expressed by Defendants therein, Plaintiff Louise Adelstone has suffered anxiety,
mental anguish, insomnia and other negative consequences to her physical and mental health. As
a five-time cancer survivor, this kind of emotional turmoil can be highly detrimental to Plaintiff
Louise Adelstones physical health.
31.

On or about May 1, 2015, the undersigned provided APS with written notice of

damages pursuant to NMSA 1978, 31-4-16(A) (1977).


32.

Plaintiff Louise Adelstone has pursed internal remedies through APSs Risk

Management Department, but to no avail. She also filed a whistleblower report with APSs
Internal Audit Office.
Count I: Violations of the New Mexico Whistleblower Protection Act
33.

Plaintiff incorporates the foregoing paragraphs by reference as though set forth

herein.

34.

As described above, during the March 3 meeting, Plaintiff Louise Adelstone

communicated to the third parties present information about Defendant Jim Chachos illegal
activities and malfeasance in his position as Principal of Hoover Middle School.
35.

Defendant Jim Chacho took the retaliatory actions against Plaintiff Louise

Adelstone described above because Plaintiff Louise Adelstone made those communications.
36.

As a direct and proximate result of Defendant Jim Chachos actions, Plaintiff

Louise Adelstone suffered damages in an amount to be proven at trial.


37.

As described above, on or about March 20, 2015, Plaintiff Louise Adelstone

communicated to APS management regarding the malfeasance of Defendant Jim Chacho and
APSs failure to adequately respond to it.
38.

Defendant APS took the retaliatory actions against Plaintiff Louise Adelstone

described above because Plaintiff Louise Adelstone made that communication.


39.

As a direct and proximate result of Defendant APSs actions, Plaintiff Louise

Adelstone suffered damages in an amount to be proven at trial.


Count II: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
40.

Plaintiffs incorporates the foregoing paragraphs by reference as though set forth

41.

Defendants conduct described above was malicious, willful and in gross

herein.

disregard of the rights of Plaintiff.


42.

Defendants conduct described above done intentionally and inflicting great

emotional distress on Plaintiff.


43.

Plaintiff was injured as a direct and proximate result of the intentional conduct by

Defendants described above, which injury no reasonable person should be expected to endure.

Count III: Tortious Interference with Contractual Relations


44.

Plaintiff incorporates the foregoing paragraphs by reference as though set forth

45.

Plaintiff Louise Adelstone has a contractual agreement with Defendant APS.

46.

Through his actions described above, Defendant Jim Chacho has tortiously, and

herein.

without excuse or justification, interfered with that contractual arrangement.


47.

As a direct and proximate result of Defendant Jim Chachos actions, Plaintiff

Louise Adelstone has lost the benefit of the contractual agreement with APS, and has suffered
damages in an amount to be proven at trial.
Count IV: Prima Facie Tort
48.

Plaintiff incorporates the foregoing paragraphs by reference as though set forth

49.

Defendants conduct was intentional, unjust and done with a malicious intent to

herein.

injure Plaintiff.
50.

Plaintiff was injured as a direct and proximate result of the intentional conduct by

the Defendants.
51.

There was no sufficient justification for the conduct by Defendants which

Defendants knew to be without justification and blatantly discriminatory.


Jury Demand
Plaintiff demands a trial by jury on all counts for which a jury trial is permitted.
Request for Relief
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for the following relief:
a) Damages in an amount to be determined at trial;

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b) An order requiring Defendants to restore the status quo ante for Plaintiff, prior to
the relation and other tortious activities described above.
c) Payment of costs of suit herein;
d) An award of pre-judgment and post-judgment interest; and
e) For other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

Dated: October 2, 2015

Respectfully submitted,
YOUTZ & VALDEZ, P.C.

/s/ Stephen Curtice


Shane Youtz
shane@youtzvaldez.com
Stephen Curtice
stephen@youtzvaldez.com
James Montalbano
james@youtzvaldez.com
900 Gold Avenue S.W.
Albuquerque, NM 87102
Telephone: (505) 244-1200
Counsel for Plaintiff

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