November 4, 2015

Scandal over faked credentials forces Mora schools chief out

A Mora superintendent who faked his educator license credentials officially resigned last Friday, a week and a half after surrendering his license to the state Public Education Department.

ThinkingThe Board of Education for the Mora Independent School District released a statement on the same day criticizing Charles Trujillo, who was named superintendent just earlier this year.

“We express our deep disappointment that Mr. Trujillo chose to use deception and counterfeit to ultimately obtain his employment with the School District by utilizing an elaborate hoax, and the Board (h)as now acted to bring these lies to a final conclusion,” the school board wrote, as reported by Las Vegas Optic. “The Board of Education shares your concerns and that of the New Mexico Department of Public Education (“PED”) with regard to the reprehensible conduct of Mr. Trujillo who while employed with PED falsely obtain(ed) licensure and regarding the subsequent use of public funds used to pay for his salary by school districts since the PED issued his unearned licenses.”

The newspaper called the board’s action a “major shift,” noting that the board president did not take the charges seriously when he was first notified about the discrepancies.

When the Optic first informed George Trujillo that it would be publishing a story that Charles Trujillo had faked his credentials in order to obtain his administrative license, George Trujillo issued a statement supporting Charles Trujillo and chalking the Optic’s story up to “small town politics.”

Trujillo’s fallout comes after a Las Vegas Optic investigation published last month that revealed his faulty credentials. In total, Trujillo faked a New Mexico Highlands University transcript and exaggerated his teaching and administrative experience to qualify for a license required to be superintendent. Perhaps even more troubling is that Trujillo, in 2013, was in charge of licensure at the state Public Education Department.

Since revelations of Trujillo’s faulty credentials ran in the headlines, two Public Education Department employees who worked under him came forward and said they raised concerns over a year ago about Trujillo’s credentials, which they said the department ignored.

One of those employees, Michelle Lewis, said someone else signed her name on one of Trujillo’s documents. The department later said the document with Lewis’ signature didn’t appear authentic.

Both the Public Education Department and state police are investigating how Trujillo succeeded in faking his credentials.