Friday, August 21, 2015

Roughshod Rookie

I found it interesting that the authors of the majority of the letters published in the August 18th edition of the Albuquerque Journal were put off more by APS Superintendent Dr. Luis Valentino’s spelling and texting errors than by what I believe to be more serious transgressions.

So he discovered it’s “roughshod” and not “roughshot.”  So he sent an embarrassing and potentially incriminating text to the wrong person.  How many of the letters' authors have not committed similar errors at one time or another?  

Like all public officials who use publicly funded devices, the superintendent should exercise the utmost care when using them.  However, the spelling and texting errors made by Dr. Valentino pale in comparison to at least two others.  

First, the superintendent’s misspelled and misdirected texts unwittingly divulged the fact that he has quickly cultivated a cozy and conspiratorial relationship with state education secretary Hanna Skandera.  Ms. Skandera is considered by many in New Mexico’s education establishment, including several APS board members, as public enemy #1 of public education.

Second, the superintendent’s texts revealed a penchant for head hunting among his own administrative team.  Apparently, the superintendent was asking Skandera for help in obtaining the head of APS chief financial officer, Don Moya, who, from all appearances, seems to have been doing his job just a little too well.  

District e-mail exchanges recently made public seem to show that Moya was trying to prevent new Deputy Superintendent Jason Martinez from engaging the district in a redundant and potentially wasteful business deal with a former Martinez associate known for his shady and unscrupulous behavior.

And now a third.  After admitting he never completed the fingerprinting and criminal background check required for employment, Martinez has resigned.  That he resigned because his upcoming trial in Colorado on child sexual abuse charges may have been revealed in the vetting process is easier to believe than leaving for “personal and family commitments.”  

In the wake of Martinez’s resignation, several questions remain.  

First and foremost, why was Martinez’s background check placed on the back burner?  What role did Superintendent Valentino play in helping Martinez delay or evade a required criminal background check?  What role did Human Resources director Karen Rudys play?  A teacher cannot even set foot in a classroom until he or she has been fully vetted and a criminal background check completed. 

Who is Toni Córdova, Valentino's chief of staff, and what were the circumstances surrounding her hiring?  There is evidence she was instrumental in the hiring of the superintendent and had close ties to the firm that was paid $25,000 by the board to conduct a nationwide search to replace interim superintendent Brad Winter.  

And what of the hiring of associate superintendent Dr. Gabriella Blakey?  She was appointed to her new post just days after Valentino assumed his role as superintendent.  Coincidentally—or not—Blakey is the daughter of the president of the Board of Education, Dr. Don Durán, who supported Valentino’s candidacy.  

What did Skandera and Governor Susana Martinez know about Jason Martinez? How well did they know him? And just what is the nature of the relationship between Skandera and Valentino such that the superintendent feels comfortable texting "Mrng Hanna" to her private cell phone first thing in the morning to discuss serious personnel matters that he apparently was not going to discuss with the Board?

Finally, what does the future hold for Superintendent Valentino, who came so promisingly to our district this summer?  Will he survive a series of scandals that has essentially spoiled any honeymoon period he may have hoped for?  Or will the enormity of the responsibilities he carries and the serious errors he commits continue to run roughshod over his rookie year?


Anonymous said...

Bazinga! What low tactics are these 'establishment leaders' ready to employ while they hide behind the perversity of the power they hold.

Anonymous said...

There were letters aimed at the exact points you discuss, but like you said.... they were not printed.