Amid ongoing controversy and a scandal of a coverup with the State Legislature that just won’t go away, Legislative Education Study Committee Director Rachel Gudgel has resigned.
Legislative Education Committee Chair Sen. Bill Soules (D-Las Cruces) confirmed Gudgel’s resignation letter was submitted to the committee Wednesday morning. Once the committee approved the resignation, Soules said Assistant Director Vanessa Hawker would be taking over as acting director through at least the 2022 legislative session. Soules said that he hoped Gudgel’s departure would help the embattled committee “get back to focusing on improving education for kids.”
Gudgel, who has served as director of LESC since 2015, has had a long history of allegations over repeated racist remarks she has made, especially concerning Native Americans. Despite repeated calls for her termination by members of the Legislature, Gudgel remained in her position. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that Gudgel wrote an apology letter to Native leaders, saying she regretted her “ignorant choice of words and cavalier attitude.”
Rep. Derek Lente (D-Sandia Pueblo), a committee voting member, said, “I have no real reason to celebrate. I think the fact that we’re talking about this issue in a state as diverse as N.M., and it took us three months out of the interim session to get to this point, is a sad reflection of where we are at,” said Lente. “I am looking forward to resuming our education focus and making sure we can get the real work done for our students.”
When asked why Gudgel wasn’t terminated, Soules said, “We didn’t need to terminate, we had the resignation.”