Espanola School Board reports itself to Attorney General after violating Open Meetings Act

ESPANOLA, N.M. (KRQE) – You could say it was a major “oops.” The Espanola School Board broke the law by violating the state’s Open Meetings Act.

It happened during a meeting to conduct interviews with superintendent candidates.

The board said it’s taking responsibly for what happened, even telling the attorney general’s office what happened.

The Espanola superintendent spot is up for grabs with major turnover for that spot in the last decade.

Now, three finalists are going head to head, interviewing for it.

On Thursday, an executive session meeting was set to conduct interviews with each candidate but it abruptly stopped midway through.

“We did make a mistake. It is embarrassing but we will learn from this and move forward.” Espanola School Board President, Ruben Archuleta said.

The mistake: the school board’s administrative assistant failed to post a formal letter with an agenda of the meeting. According to the Attorney General’s office, that is a big no-no.

The New Mexico Open Meetings Act states, “at least 72 hours prior to the meeting, the agenda shall be available to the public and posted on the public body’s website, if one is maintained.”

Board President Ruben Archuleta said he’s the one who realized the mistake and halted everything but by that point one candidate, former superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez, had already answered several questions.

“We are having a new set of questions and each candidate will be interviewed with a new set of questions,” Archuleta said to keep things fair.

The other candidates are former superintendent Art Blea and Robert Stannard from Colorado.

Since the mishap, Archuleta wrote a memo apologizing and explaining what happened.

“Well you know being transparent and that is what the board is committed to. [By] doing things right, we decided that was the right thing to do,” Archuleta said.

He even went as far as to tell the Attorney General’s office what happened. No word yet on what the AG’s office might do.

The redo meeting to conduct candidate interviews will be Wednesday. An agenda and notice for that have already been posted.

On Thursday, June 8, a public forum on the superintendent candidates will be held at Northern College at 6 p.m.