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

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. 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.”

APS deputy chief pitched contract to man fired for kickback scheme

The deputy superintendent of Albuquerque Public Schools directly contacted the controversial former chief operating officer of a tech company for a possible assessment of the school district’s IT systems.

Deputy Superintendent Jason Martinez reached out to Bud Bullard, the former chief operating officer of Advanced Network Management for potential business with the school district. Martinez and Bullard are no strangers. Both worked at Denver Public Schools at the same time. While Bullard was in charge of the district’s IT department, Martinez was the deputy director of academic operations from 2010 to 2012. “In this particular case Mr. Martinez reached out to Mr. Bullard,” ANM CEO Raminder Mann told New Mexico Political Report in an interview, referring to his company’s contact with APS.

APS exec put on leave after flagging ‘questionable RFP’

Last week, the superintendent of the state’s biggest public school district accidentally told one of his administrators via text message that he was “going to go after” him. The school district placed Chief Financial Officer Don Moya on paid leave shortly after Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Luis Valentino sent the text message. To date, neither Albuquerque Public Schools or Moya will comment on why Valentino is targeting Moya or why the district put Moya leave. Yet internal school district emails obtained by New Mexico Political Report show Moya raising concerns about a potential business agreement days before being put on leave. At issue was the school district’s possible agreement with an IT company whose former chief operating officer received kickbacks from contractors when he worked with Denver Public Schools.

APS confirms chief’s text to ‘go after’ exec

Albuquerque Public Schools acknowledged Tuesday the authenticity of a text message that said the superintendent was “going to go after” an employee who is now on administrative leave. Last Friday, Superintendent Luis Valentino mistakenly sent district Chief Financial Officer Don Moya a text message that said he was “going to go after” Moya. Valentino apparently meant to send the message to state Education Secretary Hanna Skandera. “Mrng [sic] Hanna,” the message began. “I am going to go after Don Moya in d [sic] next couple of weeks.

APS exec on leave; says superintendent texted he’d ‘go after’ him

New Mexico’s largest public schools district put a top administrator on leave last Friday. Don Moya, the Chief Financial Officer for Albuquerque Public Schools, remains on paid administrative leave today, according to district spokeswoman Johanna King. King would not speak about why Moya was placed on leave, saying it was a personnel issue. On Sunday, the Facebook account of Stand4KidsNM, an advocacy group critical of state Education Secretary Hanna Skandera’s school reforms, published what appears to be a text message Moya received from APS Superintendent Luis Valentino. Update: APS confirmed to New Mexico Political Report on Tuesday that Valentino sent the text message.

Needed: Teachers who can start tomorrow

Some school districts are still facing a shortage of teachers just days before the start of the new school year. Both Rio Rancho Public Schools and Albuquerque Public Schools have had a deficit of teachers in general as well as special education. Teacher’s unions as well as a representative of APS admitted that part of the problem may stem from a higher demand on teachers and inadequate compensation. With most schools in the state preparing to begin classes in a matter of days, New Mexico Political Report reached out to three large school districts in New Mexico to find out how many positions are still vacant. Last month APS held a job fair in order to fill teacher positions.

APS seeks 300 teachers, though says there is no shortage

As Albuquerque Public Schools wrapped up a job fair to recruit more faculty, some were asking why there is such a great need for teachers even as APS says there is no shortage. KOAT-TV reported that APS is short by about 300 teachers. Monica Armenta, the APS executive director of communications, told the station that there are more demands for teachers and pay has stayed about the same. Another APS official told New Mexico Political Report that there isn’t really a shortage, at least when compared to previous years. APS spokesman Rigo Chavez said staffing numbers are always low this time of year.

Breaking Bad actor to run for BernCo commission

A candidate announcing he is running for county commission usually doesn’t make national headlines. But when an actor who played one of the more popular supporting parts on one of the most beloved shows of the past decade announces it, then outlets around the country pay attention. Steven Michael Quezada is an actor and member of the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education. He announced that he wants to replace Art De La Cruz on the Bernalillo County Commission. De La Cruz is term-limited and cannot run again in 2016.

APS takes issue with 30 percent of its teacher evaluations

New Mexico’s largest public school district wants the state to take a second look at nearly one-third of the evaluations the state conducted on its teachers. As of Friday, June 19, Albuquerque Public Schools submitted formal inquiries on behalf of 1,671 teachers to the state Public Education Department over problems with evaluations. That’s just over thirty percent of the 5,538 APS teachers who received state evaluations this year. APS spokeswoman Johanna King was careful to explain that the district doesn’t necessarily believe that all 1,671 contested evaluations are wrong. She said some of the inquiries ask for clarifications or more information, while others question an entire evaluation’s validity.