Albuquerque, New Mexico
To say that Albuquerque Public Schools has started off to a rocky start is an understatement. Just two weeks into the new school year, APS and the New Mexico PED are finding themselves knee deep in controversy.
In early August, newly hired superintendent Luis Valentino accidentally sent a text to Chief Financial Officer Don Moya, that was intended for Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera, saying he intended to “go after” Moya.
“I am going to go after Don Moya in d (sic) next couple of weeks. My concern is that he has been allowed to ride roughshot (sic) over here and controls a lot of d (sic) financials. We are also trying to sell a bond. Our ratings could be jeopardized. Any ideas?”
Just weeks before, Valentino had verbally offered Moya the job of Deputy Superintendent, but after a meeting with Governor Suzanna Martinez, Valentino changed his mind and not only didn’t give the job to Moya, but had him removed from his job as CFO. Mr. Valentino then named Jason Martinez, Deputy Superintendent, who had been facing sex charges in Colorado, never providing the mandatory background check required by APS. Dr. Valentino ignored emails sent to him by Human Resources regarding Martinez’s background check not being completed, and is now being sued by APS’S interim associate superintendent for human resources. Karen Rudys.
“She took her concerns to Dr. Valentino, who basically just said, “I’m aware of it.’ She did that numerous times,” according to her attorney Sam Bregman.
The APS BOE had 3 emergency meetings to vote on either accepting Valentino’s resignation or to fire him.
Peggy Muller-Aragon refused to participate in the meetings stating that she felt that a personnel meeting that was being held behind closed doors should be held in public.
“I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe in hiding. That’s not what I consider transparent, APS Board Member Peggy Muller-Aragon.
During the meetings, the question we kept hearing from the public was “why is this decision taking so long?” Well, other than the stall tactics deployed by Peggy Muller-Aragon and her being a mouthpiece for the Governor, board President Don Duran’s daughter Gabriella Blakey, was hired by superintendent Valentino as associate superintendent of middle schools. If that isn’t a conflict of interest, I don’t know what is. Another is the fact the Dr. Analee Maestas is chummy with Governor Martinez. Inside sources had informed us last year that Maestas had backdoor meetings with Governor Martinez, without the board’s approval, and despite several board members voicing their concerns, they were ignored.
On Monday Aug 28, the Albuquerque Public Schools Board Of Education accepted the resignation of Superintendent Dr. Luis Valentino. The board agreed to pay Valentino his full salary through Oct. 1- about $18,000, plus an additional $80,000 and provide him a reference letter in return for his resignation.
On Friday, APS parent Jacob Gil went to the Bernalillo County Courthouse to file an application for a recall petition of APS board member Peggy Muller-Aragon. Earlier in the week, Gil had originally filed an application to have the entire Board of Education (BOE) recalled after the hiring and resignation of Superintendent Luis Valentino, but after talking with several community members and teachers, Gil found that if the entire school board was recalled, the (non- educator) Secretary of Education would have free reign over the appointing of a new APS BOE. Mr. Gil released a statement to the press regarding his decision not to move forward with an entire board recall.
“After the phone call from Ms. Skandera’s office, and numerous people in the community telling me their concerns, I now fear that this recall effort could open the door for the Public Education Department and Hanna Skandera herself to appoint board members to fill empty seats.” -Gil
“That’s the thing I want for our district because I am opposed to the testing and the unfair teacher evaluations. Our schools are hurting and I blame the Public Education Department. The last thing I want to do is help serve APS on a silver platter to Hanna Skandera.
Gil pointed out that District 2 representative Peggy Muller-Aragon refused to represent her district by not participating in the BOE’s vote on Superintendent Valentino’s future.
“I will keep intact the petition to recall Peggy Muller-Aragon because she alone refused to do her job of being a voice for her constituents in the Valentino fallout because her only boss is Governor Martinez herself. She took $15,000 of the governor’s money to win her seat. She works for the Governor and we parents and teachers don’t need that influence on our board of education.” Jacob Gill
Mr. Gil also met with several board members on Friday morning and discussed what the community is looking from them. Mr. Gil and his wife Heather have a special needs child and have been outspoken against the states standardized PARCC testing. Gil convinced the APS BOE to add a review of Student Assessments and Parental Rights to Opt-out discussion to the agenda. The goal is to not only get the Opt-out option back on the APS website but to also include a copy of the Opt-out form in EVERY child’s enrollment package.
One thing that I find interesting, is this process of revising the agenda in less than 24 hours. Why can’t ABQ City Council do the same thing when adding issues to agendas?
We have posted Mr. Gils documents that he filed to have board member Muller-Aragon recalled here on scribd.
Written by, Andy Christophersen BurqueMedia.com