TAOS, N.M. (KRQE) – When there was a threat at Taos High School administrators decided to keep students at home but all the teachers still had to go in. Local union president and teacher, Francis Hahn said he was put on leave for speaking out.

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Shane Youtz is the attorney for New Mexico’s American Federation of Teachers. “Union presidents have a right to speak out. Not just a right but a responsibility to take care of their other union members and that’s exactly what he’s doing and he’s protected under state law,” Youtz said.

School leaders at Taos High canceled in-person learning for students on November 19 after receiving a potential threat of school violence. “They thought it was serious enough, to cancel school and not have children in the schools because…they couldn’t confirm that they could create a safe school that morning,” Youtz explains. 

However, teachers were still told to go to the school and teach. Francis Hahn, who teaches honors at the school, felt concerned for employees’ safety. “He went to school and as the union president, he said hey what’s going on here? If the school’s not safe for students, why do we have to be here? And he was very demonstrative about it and they put him on administrative leave,” says Youtz. 

According to the union’s lawyer, the school district will investigate and decide whether or not to terminate or provide discipline to Hahn. AFT is taking action too. “The state of New Mexico has a public employee’s labor relations board and we’ve filed a charge against Taos schools for a prohibited practice. It’s against the law to discriminate against an employee who’s acting in the best interest of themselves and others.”

In a statement, the Taos Municipal Schools superintendent, Lillian Torrez, says the district does not publicly discuss personnel matters. The district has authorized an independent investigation.

The union believes state law will protect Hahn and will order his reinstatement, regardless of what the school district decides. District leaders say they will wait until the independent investigation is complete before deciding on a permanent action.