August 18, 2015

APS chief: Scandal is ‘personnel issue forced into the headlines’

Albuquerque Public Schools superintendent Luis Valentino. Photo courtesy APS website

Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Luis Valentino spoke out following a week of controversy over the district’s controversial decision to place an administrator on paid leave.

Albuquerque Public Schools superintendent Luis Valentino. Photo courtesy APS website

Albuquerque Public Schools superintendent Luis Valentino. Photo courtesy APS website

In a written statement released to media outlets late Monday afternoon, Valentino appeared ready to move on.

“It’s unfortunate that a personnel issue has been forced into the headlines on these first days of school when our focus should be on our students,” he wrote.

His statement follows news of leaked emails showing Chief Financial Officer Don Moya disputing a potential district business deal with a tech company, as well as the district’s subsequent plans to write a request for proposals for an assessment of its IT systems.

Moya was put on leave Aug. 7 after receiving an accidental text message from Valentino that said he was “going to go after him.”

Valentino released his own string of emails Monday that he said were “excluded from previous news accounts and should help clarify the process in question.”

“My hope is that by sharing this correspondence we can return our attention to the classroom where it belongs,” Valentino wrote.

One email shows Moya writing to a school district procurement officer on July 22 that, “per the Superintendent, the district will not be engaging ANM for the district-wide systems audit.”

ANM is a reference to Advanced Network Management, which the school district first looked into contracting to do the IT assessment. Moya took issue with that plan, noting that the company’s chief operating officer Bud Bullard was caught up in a kickback scheme in 2013 when he was with Denver Public Schools.

Bullard and APS Deputy Superintendent Jason Martinez both worked together at Denver Public Schools, and Martinez first reached out to Bullard about doing the IT assessment, as New Mexico Political Report reported this week.

Both APS and ANM agreed in late July that the proposed assessment requested by the school district was too big for the company to handle.

In the July 22 email, Moya writes to the district’s procurement officer that Valentino “has directed an RFP to be done after the scope is written.”

Moya later opposed the scope of the RFP for the IT assessment, calling it “a huge waste of time, effort and tax payer [sic] dollars.”

“The direction seems to suggest that we are going to throw away any planning and current progress on making these systems more efficient, effective and reliable,” Moya wrote in an Aug. 6 email to his colleagues, two weeks after the email released on Monday by APS.

Moya then wrote that he was halting any movement on the RFP until his concerns would be addressed, which he argued weren’t unreasonable.

“Not your call Don,” Martinez wrote back. “The work will move forward as planned.”

Courtesy Don Moya

Courtesy Don Moya

Moya sent another email that day telling Martinez it was “absolutely” his call and called the “entire process suspect,” noting that Martinez originally wanted to use an existing business agreement “that did not accommodate the original scope” for a “vendor that had been fired from Denver Public schools for taking [E-Rate] kickbacks.”

The next day, Valentino mistakenly sent the text to Moya, lamenting that Moya was “running roughshot [sic]” and had too much control over the school district’s finances. The text was apparently meant for state Education Secretary Hanna Skandera.

Valentino hired Martinez earlier this summer shortly after beginning his job as superintendent.

Earlier this week, New Mexico Political Report spoke with ANM CEO Raminder Mann, who noted that Bullard resigned from his company on July 29, before Moya sent the emails. He also stressed that Bullard’s kickback scandal didn’t happen at ANM, and lamented that his company had been caught up in the middle of an internal APS political struggle.

Read the emails APS released below:

APS Emails by New Mexico Political Report