Analee Maestas, president of the Albuquerque Public School board, calls for a closed door executive session, during a board meeting Friday morning, August 15, 2014, to discuss problems involving APS Superintendent Winston Brooks. Sitting next to her is Lorenzo Garcia. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)
Albuquerque Public Schools board meeting observers, including Gary Atwood, right, leave the meeting room after Analee Maestas, president of the Albuquerque Public School board, calls for a closed door executive session, during a board meeting Friday morning, August 15, 2014, to discuss problems involving APS Superintendent Winston Brooks. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)
Superintendent Winston Brooks
Ruben Hendrickson, acting superintendent (Courtesy APS)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Albuquerque Public Schools board voted to accept the resignation of Superintendent Winston Brooks early today.
The board named Chief Operating Officer Ruben Hendrickson acting superintendent, pending a decision to name an interim superintendent.
The vote was unanimous, with Kathy Korte and Steven Michael Quezada casting their votes via a live telephone feed. Brooks was not present at the meeting.
Friday’s action was announced at the conclusion of an hourlong session, the second closed-door session to take place this week, in which board members discussed an undisclosed personnel concern involving Brooks. That earlier session, held Monday, lasted five hours.
APS Board President Analee Maestas read a statement shortly after coming out of the closed-door session, qualifying it first by sayng there would be no further comment. The statement read:
“The APS board and its superintendent, Winston Brooks, have concluded that it’s in their best interest to part ways at this time. All involved agree that the relationship has resulted in some noteworthy progress for the Albuquerque Public Schools over the last few years. The decision to end the employee relationship will allow both the board and Brooks to establish a new direction. Both agree that this decision is the best option for APS at this time. The district wishes Brooks well in his future endeavors and similarly Brooks remains very appreciative of the wonderful years that he spent at APS.” — Analee Maestas
Per the resignation agreement, the district will pay Brooks a lump sum of $350,000 to buy out the remainder of his contract for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years. Brooks will remain on the payroll on paid sick leave until his buyout is authorized by the state Public Education Department and the 2nd Judicial District, at which point Brooks will use some of that money to purchase additional years of retirement from the Educational Retirement Board, the agreement states. Brooks also will pay any taxes related to his monetary settlement.
The concerns about Brooks came up during a July 16 executive session, while the board was discussing a professional improvement plan it had created for Brooks in the wake of last November’s Twitter fiasco. At the time, Brooks posted the now infamous “moo, moo-oink, oink” tweet in reference to state Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera, with whom he disagreed about many of her mandated public education reforms.
APS Board President Maestas hired attorney Agnes Padilla to look into the most recent concerns regarding Brooks. A report detailing her findings has been presented to the board members but has not been publicly released.
Brooks has been the APS superintendent since July 2008. He signed a three-year rolling contract with the APS board, under which he was eligible for a one-year extension every year. His base salary was $250,000 a year plus a $51,500 yearly payment toward Brooks’ Supplemental Retirement Plan.
After the November Twitter incident, the board voted to not extend Brooks’ contract for one year beyond the June 2016 expiration date.
During his years as superintendent, Brooks and APS have faced three sex discrimination lawsuits, two of which are ongoing.
He has also enjoyed professional accomplishments. Graduation rates rose from 63.2 percent in 2008, the year Brooks was hired, to 73.3 percent for the graduating class of 2013.