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Córdova v. Vaughn Municipal School District Papers

Identifier: MSS-698-BC

Scope and Content

This collection contains documentation related to the Córdova v. Vaughn Municipal School District hearings and lawsuit. Materials include depositions, court exhibits, interview transcripts, correspondence, newspaper clippings, articles, reports, and other documents.

Depositions were taken from a variety of individuals, including parents, school employees, a school board member, a student, and Nadine Córdova. Nadine Córdova's deposition was taken by the attorney for the Vaughn School District. All other depositions were taken by attorneys for the Córdovas. The testimony largely regarded the activities of MECha, the administration of a student snack program, and feedback on the Chicano studies curriculum and teaching styles of Nadine and Patsy Córdova. The questioning of school board member Art Dunlop sought to illuminate the circumstances surrounding Superintendent Arthur Martinez' action discharging the Córdovas from Vaughn Municipal Schools.

Court exhibits include copies of educational and teaching materials, memos and correspondence between the Córdovas and Art Martinez, teacher evaluation reports, board meeting minutes, handouts, informal inter-office notes, letters from parents, and copies of depositions with pertinent testimony indexed. Some of these depositions are duplicates of other depositions in the collection, others are unique.

Interviews transcripts and summaries are also included in the collection. It is unclear who conducted the interviews, which were predominantly with Vaughn school students, parents, teachers, employees, and community members. The interviews, like the depositions, discuss the Córdovas Chicano studies agenda, whether their teaching was about racism, whether they were promoting racist attitudes among students and how the students were reacting to Nadine and Patsy Córdova's teaching style/content. Also discussed in the interviews are reactions to the Córdova sponsored MECha (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán) group. Student essays and exams also illuminate the curriculum being taught by the Córdovas.


  • 1997-2000


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biographicsl Information

Nadine and Patsy Córdova, sisters, were both born in Vaughn, New Mexico, a small town 100 miles east of Albuquerque. Patsy received her B.A. in Spanish and Physical Education from Highlands University (Las Vegas, NM). She received endorsements in bilingual education from UNM. Nadine received a B.S. in elementary and special education from Eastern New Mexico University in Portales. She also studied business administration at Highlands University for 2 years. Both returned to Vaughn and embarked on teaching careers at Vaughn Junior-Senior High School. Nadine's teaching career would last 12 years and Patsy's, 23 years.

Patsy taught seventh grade history and language arts to grades 10-12. She was head teacher at the school. Nadine taught seventh grade math and "skills for living," and eighth grade language arts and drama. Nadine also initiated and sponsored the school's MECha (Movimiento Estudantil Chicano de Aztlán) club.

Nadine and Patsy Córdova received a "Notice of Intent to Discharge" from Vaughn Municipal Schools' Superintendent C. Arthur Martinez on February 28, 1997. Martinez claimed that they insubordinately refused to teach the prescribed curriculum and instead, replaced it with a racist, inappropriate, and disruptive curriculum, which caused ethnic friction in the community. A hearing before the school board in July of 1997 resulted in a 5-3 vote to fire Nadine and Patsy Córdova.

The Córdova sisters responded with an American Civil Liberties Union sponsored lawsuit against the Vaughn Municipal School District for violating their first amendment rights. The case was settled out of court in November 1998 for $520,000. The settlement stipulated that their personnel files would be purged of negative references to the case, and that Nadine and Patsy would be free to talk about the case. They have spoken extensively on first amendment rights, especially as it relates to teachers in a public school setting. Patsy retired from teaching in 1999 and Nadine became administrative assistant for the Chicano Studies Program at the University of New Mexico.

Since settling their case, the Córdova sisters have received numerous awards including the Guardian of the Constitution Award from the New Mexico Civil Liberties Union; Pilgrimage for Peace Award from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe; Multicultural Educators of the Year Award from the National Association for Multicultural Education; Albuquerque Human Rights Board Special Recognition Award from the Albuquerque Civil Rights Office; and the Defense of Academic Freedom Award from the National Council for the Social Studies.


1 box (1 cu. ft.)


This collection contains documents relating to the Córdova v. Vaughn Municipal School District case in which Nadine and Patsy Córdova were fired for insubordination and for teaching "racist, inappropriate and disruptive" curricula. This collection includes reports, depositions, court exhibits, interview transcripts, examples of student work, and other miscellaneous documents.

Related Archival Material

Eduardo Hernández-Chávez and Ysaura Bernal-Enríquez papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Joel Nossoff Chicano Movement Collection Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico.
Finding Aid of the Córdova v. Vaughn Municipal School District Papers, 1997-2000
Edited Full Draft
Processed by Chris Vigil
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//University of New Mexico::Center for Southwest Research//TEXT (US::NmU::MSS 698 BC::Cordova v. Vaughn Municipal School District Papers)//EN" "nmu1mss698bc.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131