School districts’ menstrual products part of state’s budget cuts

The New Mexico State Legislature approved $170,000 for menstrual products for some New Mexico public and charter schools for Fiscal Year 2021. But because of the recent state budget crisis, the legislature trimmed the state budget for menstrual products in the schools to $141,190 during the recent special legislative session, said Deborah Martinez, media relations coordinator for New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED). This will affect 57 schools and school districts in the state. The grant awards vary, ranging from $500 allocated to the Albuquerque Sign Language Academy to $26,963 provided to Rio Rancho Public Schools. Martinez said NMPED hasn’t sent out the new award notifications yet to the schools affected.

APS facing federal scrutiny for handling of disabled student

The federal government is investigating alleged discrimination by Albuquerque Public Schools against a student with a disability. The claim involves Michael Bruening, a 16-year-old autistic student who last saw an APS classroom in May 2015, according to his mother, Laura Gutierrez. The school district placed Bruening on homebound instruction, or education at home, but according to Gutierrez hasn’t done enough to support his educational development. Gutierrez, who said she does the bulk of instructing her son now, estimates he’s only attained education levels around the 6th or 7th grade. “I can’t teach him without him blowing up,” she said in a recent interview.

AG says APS violated open records law. Now they’re still denying a mother the documents

For more than a year, Laura Gutierrez has been at standstill in a dispute with the state’s largest public school district. Gutierrez is seeking records from an internal investigation of an Albuquerque Public Schools police officer that came after she alleged the officer tased her son during the fall of 2014. While APS handed over a memo stating that the investigation cleared the officer of any wrongdoing, it also withheld releasing supporting documents like a field investigator’s supplemental report, witness statements and a forensic interview conducted with Gutierrez’s son, Michael Bruening. “I should be able to know what my son said in the interview,” Gutierrez, who formerly went by the name Laura Bruening, told NM Political Report. Gregory Williams, an Albuquerque attorney and president of the pro-transparency New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, agrees.

Superintendent: APS transgender directive needs more work

After an hour of passionate public comment on transgender rights, a Wednesday Albuquerque Public School Board of Education meeting ended with the district’s superintendent requesting further work. A majority of public comment was regarding whether transgender students’ rights should be protected under a federal law that also protects students rights based on gender. The Department of Education said in 2014 the law, known as Title IX, included protections on the basis of gender identity. Board member Peggy Muller-Aragón who was the only member who spoke against the measure, said she had received hundreds of emails in opposition. “The loudest side is not always the right side,” she said of the large number of people who spoke in favor of the measure.

Lawsuit: Ex-principal sometimes showed up to work looking drunk—when he did at all

© New Mexico Political Report, 2015. Contact editor@nmpoliticalreport.com for info on republishing. A lawsuit accuses Albuquerque Public Schools of retaliation after an employee reported that a former principal was working while appearing intoxicated, rarely showing up to work and verbally abusing employees. Filed by Hoover Middle School counselor Louise Adelstone, the suit accuses former principal Jim Chacho of retaliating against her when she raised concerns about Chacho’s behavior. She names Chacho and APS as defendants and is seeking damages for violations of the state Whistleblower Protection Act, emotional distress and more.

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 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 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.