Albuquerque Public Schools board member calls for superintendent’s firing

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Just a few months on the job, many are now wondering if Albuquerque Public Schools’ superintendent will have a job by the end of the week.

At least one school board member has now stepped forward to say he thinks Luis Valentino should go. The statement came from APS board Steven Michael Quesada, who says Valentino’s mistakes can’t be forgiven.

School board member Steven Michael Quezada told the Associated Press Monday that Valentino’s actions are “just not fixable.”

However, other board members say they haven’t made up their minds if he’ll get the boot.

Many community members have already made their voices very clear in their opinion of Valentino.

“Disappointed in APS,” said Denise Garcia Pogzeba of Albuquerque.

“How could that happen?!” asked one woman at a weekend board meeting.

“Quit cheating our children,” said Maria Bautista, who confronted the APS board following their five hour closed door meeting on Sunday.

“Let me be clear that this has been a painful experience for the board,” said Dr. Don Duran, president of the Albuquerque Public Schools Board.

After Sunday’s board meeting, the APS board left while promising another meeting and some sort of decision Thursday about Valentino’s future.

The past few weeks have been full of controversy for Valentino.

The superintendent admitted to accidentally text-messaging his chief financial officer, Don Moya, that he was going to “go after” him. It came after Moya was put on administrative leave because of a heated conversation he had with Deputy Superintendent Jason Martinez about a possible computer systems contract. Martinez was one of Valentino’s hires.

Last week, news reports revealed that Martinez skipped a required background check. Martinez is charged with sexually assaulting kids.

“We know that public trust is an issue for use now and we will do everything we can to regain the public’s trust and confidence,” said Dr. Duran at the end of Sunday’s closed board meeting.

On Monday evening, KRQE News 13 spoke to two APS school board members. While both wouldn’t comment about whether or not they’ll vote for Valentino’s firing, they both admitted that it was a “difficult” and “hard” conversation to have in Sunday’s meeting.

“We’ve set in places kinds of infrastructure to make sure this never happens again,” said Garcia of Sunday’s meeting. “People on the board feel the anger, frustration (of the community.)”

Garcia also told KRQE News 13 that the board has more discussion to do Thursday, and more “soul searching.”

“Let’s have calmer heads prevail before we rush to judgement,” said Garcia.

Board member Barbara Peterson echoed the same concerns Monday in a phone conversation with KRQE News 13’s Chris McKee.

“We don’t want to make this hysterical, a witch hunt, or a mob calling for his head,” said Peterson. “The board members that stayed in and had conversation last night are really looking for the best interests of the districts.”

Peterson says she has received several hundred emails over the last few days though, many calling for Valentino’s firing.
KRQE News 13 also spoke to former APS school board member Marty Esquivel on Monday evening about what he thinks is happening behind the scenes regarding Valentino’s future.

“They’re really trying to get to the bottom of what’s the best thing for the district,” said Esquivel.

Esquivel says he’s not sure if the mistakes will cost Valentino his job.

“You know, it’s hard for me to say not being involved but I think there’s a pretty resounding feeling in the community that he needs to step down, but we don’t know all of the facts,” said Esquivel.

Esquivel said that some kind of suspension could be a possibility for Valentino as well.

Thursday’s meeting about Valentino’s future is set to start at 7:30 a.m. and News 13 will be there.

Valentino’s contract lasts for the next three years. The board is allowed to cancel it with “just cause.”  When he took office, Valentino said he wouldn’t take any kind of payout to end his contract.

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