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Aztec superintendent to keep educator license

Kirk Carpenter

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Aztec Municipal School District Superintendent Kirk Carpenter will keep his educator license after a state Public Education Department investigation.

PED, under former Gov. Susana Martinez, sought to revoke Carpenter’s license, contending the superintendent put kids in jeopardy by failing to report inappropriate behavior by a former Aztec High School teacher.

But Secretary of Education Karen Trujillo has decided to uphold a hearing officer’s recommendation to allow Carpenter to keep his credentials, according to PED Chief of Staff Daniel Manzano.

“The Secretary upheld the Hearing Officer’s recommendations on April 3, 2019,” Manzano wrote in an email, which did not provide any other details.

In September, PED officials moved forward with revoking Carpenter’s license, arguing that the superintendent should have reported former Aztec High teacher and coach James Coulter to the PED or law enforcement after the school investigated the teacher in 2016 for an alleged sexual relationship with a student.

However, the school determined at that time Coulter only had inappropriate conversations with female students and Carpenter said, according to the hearing officer’s report, that he felt the findings didn’t fall under the purview of reporting to the PED.

The Journal reported in March that a hearing officer recommended Carpenter keep his credentials, saying in a report that there were not sufficient grounds for revocation.

The hearing officer felt Carpenter’s 2016 decision was not basis enough to end his career.

“Neither does one act of a failure to report reach the level of incompetency necessary to make this finding given his 30 years of competent leadership in the profession of education,” she said in her report.

In her report, the hearing officer also critiqued PED’s investigation into the matter and highlighted inaccuracies and inconsistencies.

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