ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The head of New Mexico’s largest school district stepped down Friday morning. The APS board voted unanimously to accept the resignation of Winston Brooks, following another closed door session.
The APS board agreed Brooks will get a $350,000 payout, about two years before his contract expires.
This followed the second closed door session that took place this week to discuss Brooks’ future with the district. Monday’s meeting lasted for five hours.
Last week, Board President Analee Maestas hired a private lawyer to look into a “serious personnel issue” that was uncovered during a private session last month. She would not say anything more about it, but KRQE News 13 has learned it involves Brooks’ wife.
According to Friday’s agreement the district is not allowed to question the conduct or character of Brooks or his wife.
“I move that the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education agree to and adopt the resignation and settlement agreement regarding the resignation of Superintendent Winston Brooks,” APS board member, Martin Esquivel said.
Two board members, Kathy Korte and Stephen Michael Quezada, voted over the phone.
In a joint statement, APS board and Brooks said the sides agreed his stepping down was in “their mutual best interest.”
APS’ chief operations officer, Ruben Hendrickson, has been made temporary superintendent. The board will vote on an interim superintendent next week.
Brooks has been APS superintendent since 2008. He has an annual salary of about $250,000.
The settlement agreement still has to be approved by the state Public Education Department and the courts. Until the agreement is authorized, Brooks will use his sick leave for up to a month.
Larry Behrens, public information officer with the PED, issued this statement: We’re hopeful that everyone is able to move forward in a cooperative way for the benefit of our students.
Ralph Arellanes with the Hispano Round Table of New Mexico applauded Brooks’ resignation.
“We have never heard so many complaints about abuse of power and authority as we have about Superintendent Winston Brooks,” Arellanes said. “We are appalled and outraged that the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education took so long to take action on this, and they moved at a snail’s pace, but we’re glad they finally moved on this.”
Ellen Bernstein, president of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation, told News 13 she was surprised by Brooks’ resignation.
“I think we communicated well, and worked towards mutual goals over the years,” Bernstein said. “If the board can work to get a good leader, then schools can keep going on an even keel.”
“Mayor Berry wishes Winston Brooks well with his future endeavors. First of their kind initiatives such as Running Start for Careers, the International Baccalaureate program at Sandia High School and Homework Diner are all examples of how Mayor Berry worked with Superintendent Brooks to move education forward in our city,” a mayoral spokesperson said in a statement.