September 2, 2015

As superintendent is out, who would be next?


Albuquerque Public Schools

With another superintendent out after a buyout and a new acting superintendent at Albuquerque Public Schools, it’s still unclear what the future holds for the position.

Albuquerque Public Schools

Albuquerque Public Schools

Earlier this week, Luis Valentino resigned from his position as superintendent, the APS board announced Raquel M. Reedy as his replacement, at least in an acting superintendent capacity.

After previous superintendent Winston Brooks resigned, the board hired Albuquerque City Councilor Brad Winter to fill the spot. Winter was interim superintendent for ten months.

Brooks resigned last year after a board member hired a private attorney to look into a personnel matter. The APS board initially replaced Brooks with Chief Operations Officer Ruben Hendrickson. The board would later vote to appoint Winter as the interim superintendent.

Winter, who is currently seeking re-election for his city council seat, told New Mexico Political Report he would not accept the position again.

“I am absolutely not interested,” Winter said.

He said he hopes to work with APS in the future just not as an employee.

“I really care about APS,” Winter said.

He cited the more than 20 years years that he’s worked for APS and said, “it’s just time to walk away.”

Other finalists may be interested

Valentino was one of three finalists for the spot. The two other finalists were Michael Cordona from Houston Independent School District and Almudena “Almi” Abeyta from Santa Fe Public Schools.

New Mexico Political Report reached out to both Abeyta and Cordona to see if they would contemplate applying for the position again.

Abeyta said she is focused on her current job as Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning in Santa Fe, and would only consider leaving if asked.

“I am content with my work in Santa Fe because we are doing great things here.  The only way I’d consider APS is if they asked me,” Abeyta wrote in an email to New Mexico Political Report. “It would be a lot to think about.  As for now, I will stay focused on serving our families in Santa Fe!”

Cardona had a similar response. He said he recently heard about Valentino’s resignation, but said he was focused on the start of the school year in Houston.

“I haven’t thought about it yet,” Cardona said in a phone interview on Monday. He added, “I’m so immersed in what I’m doing right now.”

Cardona said he might consider applying for the position of superintendent, “if the opportunity arises.”

Abeyta and Cardona were both among the 59 initial applicants for the spot. The APS board later extended the deadline for applicants and allowed another 15 people to apply.

Among the original applicants, and one who was among the final six who were considered for the position, was Veronica Garcia, director of New Mexico Voices for Children. Garcia wouldn’t comment much on whether she would consider applying.

“I am focused on being the best leader I can be for New Mexico Voices for Children.  Of course, I want the best for the Albuquerque Public Schools, its students, families, and community,” Garcia said.

No more buyouts!

But for now, Reedy is the acting superintendent.

In an email to New Mexico Political Report board member Steven Michael Quezada said that Reedy is, “At this point just acting.”

“We do need to find someone permanent with a local hiring firm and a revised contract in my opinion,” Quezada wrote. “No more buyouts!”

Later, in a phone interview Quezada expanded on his thoughts about APS contracts. He said adding a buyout clause to the superintendent’s contract hasn’t worked out too well so far. He said he wants a superintendent that will agree to be hired without a buyout option.

“We’ve done that twice,” Quezada said of buying out a superintendent’s contract.

Quezada said accepting Valentino’s resignation was the only option for APS because there was not sufficient evidence of wrongdoing.

“Right now it’s ‘He said, she said,’” Quezada added, referring to claims from an APS human resources representative that Valentino was aware of a missing background check for Jason Martinez, the deputy superintendent who was arrested for child sexual abuse in Colorado.

“We could have fired him, but do we have evidence?”

It’s still unclear how long Reedy will act as the superintendent or if the board will elect an interim replacement. The board is scheduled to meet this evening at 5:00 pm.