FARMINGTON — Former Assistant Superintendent Sharon Jensen has filed a lawsuit alleging religious discrimination and retaliation against the Central Consolidated School District, as well as several of its top administrators, according to legal documents obtained by The Daily Times this week.

Jensen filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Albuquerque on Sept. 28 under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New Mexico Human Rights Act.

Aside from the district, the defendants include Superintendent Don Levinski, former Director of Operations Ed Marquez, district Board of Education President Matthew Tso, Enrichment Coordinator Scott Nicolay and school board member Hoskie Benally.

Jensen alleges that the defendants discriminated against her because they believed she was Mormon, and retaliated against her because of complaints she made while employed at the district.

In the suit, Jensen claims she was unfairly demoted for those same reasons.

"Plaintiff Sharon Jensen is an individual who is Anglo and non-Mormon ... but was confused by supervisors of the current Central Consolidated School District as Mormon..." court documents said.

When Jensen told Superintendent Levinski that she resided in Kirtland, a predominantly Mormon community in the district, she said Levinski replied, "Well, that's not good."

Jensen accused Nicolay, the enrichment coordinator, of harassing her with text messages, and through blog comments, both which insulted Jensen's appearance and professional competence.


Tso also is accused of participating in hate speech blogging.'

"Honestly, I have no idea what she would be referring to. ... I have not seen the merits of her case," Tso said Friday.

"As far as I know, we're looking to have the entire case dismissed," Tso said. "It's nothing but a junk lawsuit."

Jensen, who acted as assistant superintendent for two years prior to her termination in 2011, worked for the district for 30 years. She was never disciplined during that time, court documents said.

Jensen's issues paralleled those of former co-workers, former Superintendent Greg Epperson and Byron Manning, former director of Operations and Finance, both of whom were fired in May 2011.

Jensen's resignation followed shortly thereafter, after she learned that she would lose her position as assistant superintendent and be reassigned to a principal's position. Her estimated loss in annual salary would be about $50,000, court documents said.

This is not the only lawsuit CCSD and its administrators are facing. For the past year, they have been at the forefront of a district battle.

The district still is in the midst of a lawsuit with plaintiffs Jeffrey Hunt and Alice Ulibarri, who also filed a discrimination lawsuit.

Both were employed at the district for more than 20 years.

"We can't discuss anything that's currently in litigation," said James Preminger, spokesman for the district.

Preminger did not know the precise number of lawsuits currently filed against the district, though he guessed it was no more than most districts.

"There's things in litigation all the time from people," Preminger said. "There's complaints at different levels."

Neither Jensen nor her lawyer could be reached for comment Friday.