SANTA FE, N.M. — The former New Mexico assistant secretary for Native American education says she was forced out of the job earlier this month without explanation or documented reasoning.

Latifah Phillips worked her last day for the state Public Education Department’s Indian Education Division last week.

In a letter sent to the state’s tribal elders this week, Phillips says she chose to be fired when the department gave her the opportunity to resign, describing the decision as a “small act of protest to the unfairness of this action.”

The department declined to comment on Phillip’s firing, citing it as a confidential personnel matter.

DeAlva Calabaza was named the acting assistant secretary. The department says Calabaza will “take the work of the Indian Education Division to the next level.”

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