LAS VEGAS, N.M. — Elmo Baca has always loved historic buildings. He was born in Las Vegas, a Wild West city that’s one of the most historic in New Mexico, home to more than 900 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. After he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Yale University, Baca moved home for the summer, unsure what to do next. An elderly artist who lived in a restored adobe house near the city plaza changed his life with a single sentence. “This town needs you,” she told him.
Note: This is a breaking story and may be updated with new information. Universities, including the two largest in the state, announced they will extend their spring breaks to help reduce the potential spread of COVID-19, a type of coronavirus, that has become a global pandemic. University of New Mexico President Garnett S. Stokes announced in a video that the university’s regularly scheduled spring break would extend through Sunday, April 5. Spring break was initially planned to begin March 15 and end on March 22. It will still begin on March 15.
At least three four-year universities in New Mexico are telling international students affected by President Trump’s controversial executive order affecting immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries to not leave the United States. The University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology formally instructed international students from any of the seven countries to not travel outside the U.S. in the near future. Trump’s executive order temporarily bars those from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the country. “Citizens of those countries, who wish to return to the US, should not plan to travel abroad at this time,” UNM wrote in a news release Monday. In his weekly letter to students and faculty, UNM Acting President Chaouki Abdallah noted that Trump’s order affects “more than 100 individuals in the UNM community.”
On Sunday, NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers made a similar call to his students.
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. The 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.
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.
State Senator Pete Campos announced plans to retire from his position as President of Luna Community College. Campos made the announcement through a release on the Luna Community College website. “It has been my pleasure to serve in a role where I have been able to make a definite improvement in the operation of the College and in the education of its students,” Campos said in the statement. “We want to thank Dr. Campos for all his service,” said Luna Community College Board Chairman Dan Romero said in a statement. “Most recently, he guided the college through our national accreditation and has moved our nursing program forward.
Senator Pete Campos, a Democrat from Las Vegas, proudly refers to himself as a moderate. He’s also well aware that his votes on some of the state’s most divisive policy measures have fed gossip about possible quid pro quo deals with the governor’s office. Campos, who is also president of Luna County Community College, said he noticed—and hoped to quash—pointed questions circulating on social media after he and four other Democrats helped tipped the scales in favor of the nomination of Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera. Eyebrows were also raised when he was the only Democrat to vote in favor of attorney Matt Chandler during a particularly contentious hearing over his nomination to the University of New Mexico Board of Regents. “I was just waiting for someone to ask me,” Campos told the New Mexico Political Report on Monday.