October 21, 2015

Second PED employee said concerns about faked credentials ‘fell on deaf ears’

A second state Public Education Department employee is claiming she previously raised concerns about the faked credentials of a high-level administrator.

ScantronSusan Benavidez, who worked in the agency’s licensure bureau until last month, released a statement to media today corroborating another employee’s recent claims about Charles Trujillo.

Benavidez also said she raised her own concerns, which “fell on deaf ears.”

Trujillo, the superintendent of Mora Independent Schools District, was the subject of a Las Vegas Optic investigation that revealed he faked his credentials to get an educator license from PED.

Trujillo also headed PED’s licensure bureau in 2013. Both Benavidez and Michelle Lewis, who yesterday released a public statement saying she raised concerns about the matter “well over a year ago,” worked under Trujillo.

Lewis also stated that she never signed one of Trujillo’s license documents bearing her signature.

A PED spokesman acknowledged that the document bearing Lewis’ signature didn’t look authentic but told media outlets that the department couldn’t find evidence of Lewis’ complaint.

Benavidez, however, said she saw it happen.

“I witnessed Michelle Lewis verbally report issues and concerns with Mr. Trujillo’s license,” she said. “I too voiced concerns about his licenses and those complaints to management also fell on deaf ears.”

New Mexico Political Report reached out to PED spokesman Robert McEntyre Wednesday afternoon. McEntyre hasn’t returned our voicemails, emails and text messages asking for comment on Benavidez’ statement. We’ll update this post once he does.

The controversy surrounding Trujillo has drawn attention from District Attorney Richard Flores, Attorney General Hector Balderas and State Auditor Tim Keller. Both PED and New Mexico Highlands University—Trujillo falsely stated he earned a Master’s Degree from the northern New Mexico school—are conducting investigations into the matter.

Trujillo surrendered his educator licenses to PED yesterday. He cannot operate as a superintendent without the licenses.