SANTA FE, N.M. – He's been called a gadfly. He may annoy the heck out of the Albuquerque Public School's Board of Education, and he even attended one public meeting wearing an elephant mask.
Still, Ched MacQuigg has every right to speak before the board, according to a federal judge in Albuquerque.
Furthermore, the judge says, the board overstepped its bounds by barring MacQuigg from its meetings for nearly four years.
"The public has an interest in seeing public meetings conducted in a manner that respects attendees' First Amendment rights," Chief U.S. District Judge M. Christina Armijo said in her March 31 ruling that granted a preliminary injunction against the APS school board in the long-running dispute.
"I feel vindicated," said MacQuigg, a former APS shop teacher whose verbal jousts with the board prompted then-Board of Education President Martin Esquivel and APS Chief of Police Steve Tellez to send MacQuigg a letter in September 2010 "revoking" his "privilege" to attend public meetings of the board.
"APS has invested a lot of energy and resources into making me appear to be a crackpot," MacQuigg said in a telephone interview with New Mexico Watchdog. "They really did violate my civil rights by not letting me stand up at a public forum and ask them questions."