Login for full access to ABQJournal.com



New Users: Subscribe here


Close

APS superintendent suspended for tweets

APS Board President Mary Esquivel, center, announces that Superintendent Winston Brooks has been suspended for three days for remarks he made on Twitter. On the left is APS Board Member Dr. David E. Peercy and on the right is APS Vice President Kathy Korte. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)
APS Board President Mary Esquivel, center, announces that Superintendent Winston Brooks has been suspended for three days for remarks he made on Twitter. On the left is APS Board Member Dr. David E. Peercy and on the right is APS Vice President Kathy Korte. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)
........................................................................................................................................................................................

8 p.m.

Copyright © 2013 Albuquerque Journal

By Rick Nathansan / Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer

Winston Brooks took the equivalent of a trip to the principal’s office Friday.

When he came out, he had been slapped with a three-day unpaid suspension, a letter of reprimand and his Twitter account was off the air.

And his social media adviser, who joined in his mocking of state education chief Hanna Skandera, was facing discipline of her own.

At a news conference Friday afternoon, Albuquerque Public Schools Board president Marty Esquivel made it clear the board was not happy with Brooks’ “moo,moo-oink,oink” comment regarding Skandera.

The discipline is in response to tweets Brooks exchanged with a TV reporter earlier in the week in which Brooks likened state Public Education Department chief Skandera to barnyard animals.

Esquivel said APS board members, who met earlier in the morning in a lengthy closed door session with Brooks, were in “complete agreement” about the disciplinary measures.

APS Chief Operations Officer Brad Winter watches an unfolding news conference at which board members announced APS Superintendent Winston Brooks would be suspended for three days. Winter will serve as interim superintendent. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

APS Chief Operations Officer Brad Winter watches an unfolding news conference at which board members announced APS Superintendent Winston Brooks would be suspended for three days. Winter will serve as interim superintendent. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

“We do not condone the superintendent’s comments; they do not reflect well upon our children or the staff members of this district,” he said. “To his credit the superintendent knows this, he has demonstrated deep remorse for his comments and is very genuinely sorry about the incident.”

Brooks has already sent an apology to Skandera, as has Esquivel, who “offered a commitment to move forward and have a better dialogue with her, and to establish a much better relationship with her than we’ve had in the past.”

Brooks could not be reached for comment late Friday.

His suspension will be effective Monday. APS Chief Operations Officer Brad Winter will serve as interim superintendent for the three-day period.

In addition, APS’ social media specialist, Maralyn Beck, who joined in the Twitter exchange by posting emoticons of barnyard animals, was also taken to task.

“We are very disappointed with Ms. Beck’s conduct,” Esquivel said. “She is not the board’s employee, but it’s our understanding she will be disciplined.”

Monica Armenta, APS’ executive director of communications, confirmed that Beck, who has been on the job for four weeks, has been disciplined, although she declined to elaborate because “it’s a personnel matter.”

Brooks on Tuesday exchanged tweets with a KOAT-TV reporter who had traveled to Moriarty to cover an event where Skandera was speaking. She and Brooks were tweeting about Moriarty when Brooks, while attending an APS board meeting, wrote “Maybe Skandy should head for the livestock truck!!!” He immediately followed that tweet with another: “Moo, Moo, Oink, Oink!!”

During the afternoon press conference at the APS central office in Uptown, Esquivel said he and the other board members remained confident in Brooks. Ticking off some of his accomplishments, he said that under Brooks’ leadership the APS graduation rate has reached 70 percent and the district’s financial stability “is at an all-time high.” He said Brooks led two successful bond campaigns and took the heat at community town hall meetings where, at the board’s direction, he tried to explain the new teacher evaluation system and new requirements regarding testing.

Brooks, like many APS teachers and board members, opposes many of the education reforms being pushed by Skandera and the state Public Education Department. Because of that, Brooks has “borne the brunt of often unfair criticism, and a distasteful if not hateful mailer from some of his political enemies,” Esquivel said. “How a longtime public servant and respectful educator can be the subject of these dark, muddied, vicious political attacks is beyond me.”

Nevertheless, the superintendent “used poor judgment and the board cannot and will not ignore that.”

BROOKS: “Genuinely sorry” about the incident

BROOKS: “Genuinely sorry” about the incident

A flier circulated last month blasted Brooks for putting up “roadblocks to education reform.” It was sponsored by New Mexico Competes, whose executive director is a former deputy Cabinet secretary in the administration of Gov. Susana Martinez,

Esquivel cautioned all people with an opinion on education reforms to “acknowledge that the rhetoric level has been way out of line.” He suggested everyone “take a step back and take a deep breath, and commit to a more productive manner of communicating our disagreements.”

Brooks was not at the afternoon news conference at which the disciplinary measures were announced. After the executive meeting in the morning, he departed through a boardroom side door, avoiding reporters who had gathered in the hallway to speak with him.


2:08 p.m.

Albuquerque Public Schools Board President Marty Esquivel announced during a press conference Friday that APS Superintendent Winston Brooks will be suspended for three days for remarks he made on Twitter.

Brooks has been under fire since Tuesday, when he exchanged tweets with a local TV reporter in which he likened state Public Education Department chief Hanna Skandera to barnyard animals.

APS board members and Brooks have been engaged in a bitter public quarrel with the New Mexico Public Education Department, which Skandera heads, over teacher evaluations and what APS officials say is an excessive amount of testing.

Brooks told the Journal on Wednesday that his tweets were inappropriate and wrong and that he had contacted Skandera to apologize.

Esquivel said the events result in a teachable moment. “It is a lesson we can teach to our children,” he said.

APS Chief Operating Officer Brad Winter will be interim superintendent during Brooks’s suspension.

On Friday, Esquivel sent a note to APS staff:

Subject: A message from the APS Board of Education President

The Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education today suspended Superintendent Winston Brooks for three days without pay in response to his inappropriate Twitter comments regarding state Public Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera.

“The board does not condone the superintendent’s comments. They do not reflect well upon the children and staff members of Albuquerque Public Schools,” said Board President Martin Esquivel.

In an emotional executive session meeting of the Board today, Superintendent Brooks acknowledged his error in judgment and gracefully accepted his discipline. He will begin his suspension on Monday, and Chief Operations Officer Brad Winter will be in charge during his absence, as is the case when Mr. Brooks is on leave.

In addition, the Board has asked the Communications Department to aggressively review and improve how the district uses social media. “Social media is an important communications tool, but the district needs more specific guidelines and training on its use. And that starts at the top,” Esquivel said.

Esquivel said the Board of Education believes Superintendent Brooks should continue to lead APS, citing several accomplishments during his tenure including an increased graduation rate, financial stability, community engagement, successful bond campaigns, and efforts to narrow the achievement gap.

“Superintendent Brooks and Albuquerque Public Schools have much work to do to regain the confidence of our community,” Esquivel said. “We as a board believe Superintendent Brooks will be able to do so because he is an extraordinarily committed person who believes in public education.”


11:10 a.m. — Superintendent Winston Brooks appears to have deleted his Twitter account.

A search for Brooks’ old Twitter handle, “@SuptBrooks”, shows only tweets addressed at him instead of bringing up his account.


Albuquerque Public Schools superintendent Winston Brooks was apparently taken to task Friday morning during a closed door personnel meeting of the full Albuquerque Public Schools Board.

The unusually long meeting went from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. While the media were not allowed inside, a clearly distraught Brooks could be seen through gaps in the closed window blinds, periodically wiping his eyes and nose with a tissue.

Brooks has been under fire since Tuesday, when he exchanged tweets with a local TV reporter in which he likened state Public Education Department chief Hanna Skandera to barnyard animals.

APS social media expert Maralyn Beck joined in the exchange by tweeting cartoon pictures of a pig, cow, boar, sheep, penguin and a frog.

At the conclusion of the meeting the media were allowed to enter the board room. Brooks, however, had already departed through a side door. School board president Martin Esquivel commented only that a formal statement would be released at 2 p.m.

Top
Read previous post:
Former Belen detective charged in alleged beating

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A former Belen police detective could face 10 years in prison if convicted of a federal......

Close