- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 27, 2017

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A former New Mexico official who was fired after providing government records on boarding house conditions to a newspaper has reached an out-of-court settlement with the state.

Sondra Everhart, a former chief advocate for residents of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, sued the Department of Aging and Long-Term Services after her dismissal in June 2016.

Everhart had provided documents to the Albuquerque Journal in response to a public records request filed a few months before she was fired. She maintained she was legally authorized to provide the documents.

The Journal published a series of stories on substandard boarding home conditions in Las Vegas, New Mexico, that serve mentally ill patients released from the state psychiatric hospital in that city.

Terms of the settlement were not immediately disclosed, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported (https://bit.ly/2sXmsOo ) Monday.

A spokesman for the Department of Aging and Long-Term Services didn’t immediately respond to a comment request. The department had previously stated Everhart was doing a “great job” before providing the documents.

The records contained confidential information and didn’t have to be disclosed under the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act. But the act also requires an ombudsman to make a reasonable effort to grant records requests when possible.

Everhart redacted names of boarding home residents from the documents. The department claimed the records contained “identifying information such as place of residence, and in some instances, age and circumstances of boarding.”

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Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, https://www.sfnewmexican.com

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