The state Public Education Department is changing its old guard for a new one.
Recently confirmed Education Secretary Arsenio Romero named four newcomers to his leadership team on Monday and gave the PED’s managing director — who’d been doing the job on an interim basis for 10 months — the permanent position.
“I have assembled my personal dream team,” Romero said in a written response to the Journal. “This is a brilliant and dynamic team. … We worked hard to find just the right person to lead from each seat and I can say with 100% confidence that we have done that.”
The appointments come after significant turnover in the state education department, including some of its top leadership positions. Romero is only a few months into his job, after his predecessor, Kurt Steinhaus, retired Jan. 27.
Less than a week after Steinhaus’ departure, one of his most recent additions to his team — Jacquelyn Archuleta-Staehlin — resigned as deputy secretary amid questions about whether her past legally representing school districts qualified her for the position.
Former Deputy Secretary Vickie Bannerman also resigned in early February to “pursue other opportunities,” department spokeswoman Kelly Pearce said.
Interim Deputy Secretary Jacqueline Costales will return to her previous role as director of the Curriculum and Instruction division. For months, she was the only deputy secretary listed on the PED’s website. Seana Flanagan, the PED’s managing director, is the only remaining member of the department’s previous administration.
“I am committed to being here for the long haul and so is my leadership team,” Romero said. “We know that we have 3 1/2 years to deliver the most that we can for the children of New Mexico and that is what we are going to do!”
Members of the PED’s new leadership team are:
Candice Castillo: Coming from Houston Independent School District, Castillo’s purview as a deputy secretary is diverse, overseeing federal programs, fostering safe and healthy schools and in charge of the state’s Black and Hispanic education acts. She’s also tasked with implementing the state’s action plan on the consolidated Yazzie-Martinez lawsuit, which in 2018 resulted in a decision finding New Mexico wasn’t fulfilling its constitutional duty to its most “at-risk” students.
Amanda DeBell: An associate superintendent in Albuquerque Public Schools of a zone covering Cibola, Volcano Vista and Valley high schools, DeBell will work on curriculum, instruction, assessment and educator quality in her new role as deputy secretary. She’ll also oversee charter schools and struggling schools.
KatieAnn Juanico: Most recently the education director of San Felipe Pueblo, Juanico as an assistant secretary for the PED will head up Indian Education Programs, Indigenous language and culture projects and will consult with tribes.
Gregory Frostad: Formerly the interim director of the department’s Policy and Legislative Affairs office, Frostad will serve as an assistant secretary to supervise the agency’s policy, accountability and IT divisions, Pearce said.
Seana Flanagan: Beginning her 10th year in the PED, Flanagan oversees human resources and community engagement.