ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Help wanted. One superintendent for the largest school district in the state. Experience necessary.
The Albuquerque school board is wasting little time finding an interim superintendent to lead APS in the coming months, outlining its plan at a meeting Wednesday night.
The board plans to take applications until the end of business Thursday. That night, board members will meet in closed session to narrow the field down to somewhere around five finalists. From there, the board will interview those finalists and pick an interim superintendent by Friday night.
One prominent candidate has already had their name mentioned publicly. Board member Kathy Korte mentioned at Wednesday’s meeting that Veronica Garcia, the former state education secretary under Bill Richardson, is interested in the superintendent post. Garcia is currently the executive director for advocacy group New Mexico Voices for Children.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the public had advice for what the board should look for in an interim superintendent, with several people asking the board to choose someone with classroom experience.
But the reason the job is open in the first place got attention too.
Former APS superintendent Winston Brooks resigned Friday after an attorney hired by board president Analee Maestas completed an investigation into a “serious personnel issue”. Sources tell News 13 that the investigation centered around Brooks’ wife. Brooks is receiving a $350,000 payout from the district to go away.
Maestas and the board have refused to release the investigation or explain why the six figure payout was necessary. During public comment Wednesday, board critic Charles MacQuigg called that move hypocritical.
“The standards you establish and enforce on students require candor, forthrightness and honesty,” MacQuigg said. “Your standards of conduct do not.”
The buyout outraged state Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque, who has pushed for a ban on taxpayer-funded payouts for public officials to leave early.
“I was just like everyone else, dumbfounded that we would continue to go down this road and just give money to people for no work,” Rehm said.
Rehm says the district owes it to the community to be transparent.
‘We’ve paid [Brooks],” Rehm said. “The taxpayers, the public need to know what occurred.”
When asked whether the board owed the community an explanation, Maestas declined to comment.
Meanwhile, the Public Education Department still has to sign off on Brooks’ buyout. A department spokesperson declined comment on whether the deal would be approved, saying PED hadn’t yet received it.