SANTA FE, NM (AP) – An education policy expert resigns her post in the New Mexico legislature amid long-standing controversy over remarks she made about Native American students in 2019.

Head of the Legislative Education Review Committee Rachel Gudgel announced her resignation on Wednesday, ending her tenure as a non-partisan advisor to lawmakers focusing on education policy, where she earned around 130,000. $ per year.

“I have worked for the Legislative Assembly since 2005 and love my job. However, the harassment and difficult work environment over the past three months has created an atmosphere that is just too difficult for me to continue working and being effective, ”she said in a statement.

The decision follows a year of disciplinary action that included a temporary suspension, an apology and a $ 100,000 professional trainer. In her apology to Native American leaders, she called her words “insensitive.” Native American advocacy groups and lawmakers then called for his resignation.

Sandia Pueblo’s Rep Derrick Lente said he gave Gudgel the benefit of the doubt but found the comments to be worse than he initially thought.

“I wanted her resignation, or I wanted her to be fired. So I think for me it shouldn’t have taken that long, ”said Lente, who had voted for the education committee to fire her, believing that she had an implicit bias that made it impossible to tell. serve Native American students.

About 10% of school children in New Mexico are Indigenous, and the state has about two dozen Native American tribes with their own unique languages ​​and cultures. They are plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit over driver education policy in the legislature, in which a state court ruled that the state provided substandard education for Native American children and other children. vulnerable.

Members of the education committee accepted the resignation and appointed deputy director Vanessa Hawker to lead research efforts until the next legislative session, which begins in January.

The chairman of the education committee, who voted to keep it, said members were ready to move on.

“We can now focus on our most pressing goal, which is to achieve the most positive learning outcomes possible for every student in New Mexico. It is a goal to which every member of the committee is committed, and I have no doubts that we remain united in our efforts to achieve it, ”said Senator Bill Soules of Doña Ana County.

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