A second state Public Education Department employee is claiming she previously raised concerns about the faked credentials of a high-level administrator. Susan 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.
The embattled superintendent at Mora Independent Schools surrendered his education licenses following a report that found he faked credentials to get the position. The allegations against Charles Trujillo were first reported by the Las Vegas Optic following a months-long investigation. After the report, multiple media outlets, including New Mexico Political Report, followed up on the report. One Public Education Department employee whose signature was on some of the faked credentials said she did not sign the papers and that she had raised concerns about Trujillo’s credentials to PED officials “well over a year ago.” PED spokesman Robert McEntyre acknowledged to media outlets Tuesday that the document with Lewis’ signature doesn’t appear to be authentic.
A consultant with the state Public Education Department is denying reports that she signed off on a top administrator’s fraudulent transcript to obtain an administrative state license. In a statement to media released this afternoon, Michelle Lewis said she never took part in “what appears [to be a] a scheme to assist in something that could compromise my integrity.”
Related Story: A second employee stepped forward to corroborate Lewis’ statement. “I state unequivocally that I did not sign, nor did I lend my signature to any of the documents relative to the licenses in question,” Lewis said. Lewis also said she warned her supervisors and PED’s ethics bureau about discrepancies in Trujillo’s license “well over a year ago.”
Her name appeared over the weekend in an explosive Las Vegas Optic investigation that revealed Charles E. Trujillo, the superintendent of Mora Independent Schools District, faked his educator credentials in order to qualify for his current job. In 2013, Trujillo worked at PED in charge of the proper issuance of very things he faked documents to receive—state educator licenses.
A Las Vegas Optic investigation into whether a Mora superintendent forged his state educator administration credentials is prompting at least two outside investigations into the matter. Over the weekend, the newspaper ran a story it had been working on for five months concluding that Mora Independent Schools District Superintendent Charles E. Trujillo, in the story’s own words, “faked his credentials in order to qualify for the administrative license he received.” The discrepancies include Trujillo faking a Highlands University transcript to show that he had a Master’s Degree, lying that he was employed as an education administrator for seven years instead of two and a half years and exaggerating that he worked as an adjunct instructor at Luna Community College for six years instead of three years. The state Public Education Department (PED), according to the Optic story, gave Trujillo an administrative license based on his Master’s Degree, for having more than six years experience as an education administrator and more than six years experience as an instructor. All ended up being not true, according to the Optic.