LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – The Las Cruces Public Schools district is facing backlash from parents and lawmakers following the secret prom investigation and the return to remote learning. Las Cruces Public Schools tells KRQE News 13 there were two events not sanctioned by the district last weekend.

They say a gathering involving Oñate High School students followed health order guidelines. However, the event involving Mayfield High School students did not and prompted the secret prom investigation. Senators David Gallegos and Crystal Diamond met with district administrators after receiving calls and complaints from concerned parents.

According to Senator Diamond, two Oñate students were told they would have to return to remote learning like Mayfield High students because the district believed they attended the ‘secret prom.’ Once it was determined the two students attended the COVID-safe gathering, the district reversed its decision, but lawmakers say the district’s response to these private events is alarming. “I think this school board and all school boards should spend less time worrying about what students are doing outside the classroom and more time worrying about how we’re going to help them recover from the year of education they just lost,” Diamond says.

According to a complaint, hundreds of Mayfield students were believed to have attended the non-sanctioned event. The district tells KRQE News 13 they have an obligation to monitor gatherings that violate the public health orders, especially if they could have an impact on their campuses.

“We are bound by public health orders right now, we have to follow the guidance from the Department of Health and the Public Education Department. And that guidance is we cannot have mass gatherings and the events that happened over the weekend were most definitely mass gatherings that could impact the health and safety of our staff,” says Kelly Jameson, Public Information Officer for Las Cruces Public Schools.

Las Cruces Public Schools says they are not looking to punish students by keeping them from graduation. Last month, the Public Health Department did say districts could host proms, and released guidance for how they could happen safely. KRQE News 13 reached out to the Public Education Department and the Department of Health for more information on these events and if they had concerns about similar events happening state-wide but officials were not available for comment.