A group of business leaders on Monday released a letter thanking Albuquerque Public Schools Board President Marty Esquivel for the “prompt disciplinary action” taken against APS Superintendent Winston Brooks for his recent derogatory remarks directed at state Public Education Department chief Hanna Skandera.
The remarks, made in a Twitter posting, referenced Skandera with a “moo, moo-oink, oink.” This resulted in Brooks getting a suspension of three days without pay, a letter of reprimand placed in his personnel file and the yanking of his Twitter account.
The business leaders’ letter said that they were “very concerned that at a time when our education system needs balanced and collaborative change, the superintendent has not taken a leadership role. Solutions and compromise are impossible to reach when the level of discourse is not civil or professional.”
It was signed by Elizabeth Shipley, chairman of the board of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce; Terri Cole, president and CEO of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce; Don Power, chairman of the board of the Economic Forum; Bob Murphy, president and CEO of the Economic Forum; Steven Becerra, chairman of the board of the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce; and Alex Romero, president and CEO of the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce.
The letter echoes the sentiments of a bipartisan correspondence sent to Esquivel last week from the New Mexico state legislative leadership.
On Monday, the full Board of Education met in a closed-door executive session with Brooks to conduct his evaluation. “He heard from us, we heard from him and the next step is to vote on his contract extension Thursday morning,” Esquivel said.
He declined to indicate which way the board was leaning.
Also on Monday, APS communications executive director Monica Armenta confirmed that the district’s social media expert, Maralyn Beck, had been disciplined with a formal letter of reprimand in connection with the Brooks-Skandera Twitter debacle. Beck joined the exchange by posting emoticons of barnyard animals. Like Brooks, Beck also sent a letter of apology to Skandera.
A relatively new employee, Beck had been on the job about a month when the incident occurred in early November. She is so new, Armenta said, her name does not yet appear on the APS website that lists all APS employees and their yearly salaries – which in Beck’s case is $52,500.