NMPED: Entire Los Lunas school board suspended indefinitely
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The entire Los Lunas school board has been suspended due to alleged violations of procurement and public access laws, according to a release from the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED).
Los Lunas School Board President Eloy G. Giron, Vice President P. David Vickers, Secretary Frank A. Otero, and members Bryan C. Smith and Steven R. Otero are all suspended.
The NMPED release states that members are not allowed to contact school staff or use school equipment or facilities during the indefinite suspension. They also cannot use the board’s attorney to represent them.
The state’s public education department warned the board about violations in November. They also provided training to the board members in January and March regarding the laws and rules.
The NMPED has credible evidence of the following violations by one or more board members:
PUBLIC ACCESS CONCERNS
- Knowingly misrepresenting information in public meetings;
- Violating the Open Meetings Act by using rolling quorums;
- Acting on matters not described with reasonable specificity on board meeting agendas;
- Violating the Inspection of Public Records Act by refusing to produce records as required.
- Interfering with district contracts and not following the Procurement Code;
- Directly asking or demanding a vendor to redo a part of a contract;
- Attempting to extort vendors by suggesting they would receive a district contract if they agreed to personally enrich a board member;
- Soliciting bids;
- Providing confidential bid information to potential vendors;
- Demanding contracts for goods and services be awarded to certain vendors, bypassing appropriate procurement procedures;
- Soliciting services and contracts without working with the district’s chief procurement officer and central procurement office.
(Possible violations of board policy and/or Public School Code)
- Addressing a district employee in an inappropriate and threatening manner in a public meeting;
- Inducing an employee to lie about a supervisor;
- Falsifying allegations about financial misconduct of school administrative personnel;
- Attempting to extort school administrative, support and maintenance personnel through intimidation and threats;
- Interfering with personnel matters, including demanding the demotion, suspension and/or termination of school personnel, decisions and responsibilities properly assigned by law to the superintendent;
- Interfering with overall district operations;
- Demanding family members be hired, in violation of prohibitions on nepotism;
- Interfering with the superintendent and administrative staff roles.
Statement from Los Lunas Public Schools:
Today, the New Mexico Public Education Department suspended the five members of the Los Lunas Schools Board of Education. At this time, the district is unable to comment on any of the statements outlined by the NMPED, other than to say that the School Board is an integral part of the success of a school district and its student outcomes. It is important that everyone is held to the highest standards.
As outlined in the PED statement, Los Lunas Schools Superintendent Dr. Arsenio Romero, will work with the Secretary to ensure that Los Lunas Schools complies with all orders and actions from the NMPED. This includes my communicating with, and reporting directly to, the Secretary of Education, Dr. Ryan Stewart. The administration and staff will continue to work diligently to continue to operate the District efficiently and successfully throughout this transition.
“As Superintendent of the Los Lunas Schools, I want to assure our parents, students, and the community that every student will continue to have the best opportunity for a great learning experience,” said Dr. Romero. “We will continue to move forward with that goal. Thank you for your support during this transition.”
Los Lunas Schools anticipates that our community will have questions about today’s announcement by the NMPED. We will provide links on the LLS website with additional information as it becomes available from NMPED.