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APS school board chief trades barbs with Korte

MAESTAS: Criticized Korte's role with group

MAESTAS: Criticized Korte’s role with group

KORTE: "I will do as I see fit in advocating"

KORTE: “I will do as I see fit in advocating”

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Albuquerque school board’s new president, Analee Maestas, exchanged barbs with board member Kathy Korte over Korte’s role in an advocacy group that encourages parents to opt their kids out of standardized tests.

Maestas told Korte in an email last month that she needed to examine her role on the board and that of a parent organizer on Stand4KidsNM.

“You cannot continue to use your board position to advance the (organization’s) goals,” she said.

The chiding was made public last week when Korte posted the email correspondence to Facebook. A parent, other school board members and APS administrators were also included in the emails.

“I will do as I see fit in advocating for teachers and parents in the district. I have not overstepped my bounds,” wrote Korte, who added that Maestas’ criticism was hypocritical because the new board president is a member of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, a nonprofit that advocates for empowering Latinos, according to its website.

“As for NALEO, it sounds like a pro-reform group as well,” Korte wrote. “I have no interest in it. And you and (school board member Don Duran) can’t use your board positions to advocate for NALEO. If the shoe fits, wear it, Analee. Your email is full of hypocrisy.”

Board member Marty Esquivel said calling NALEO a pro-reform group is “misleading and unfair.”

Korte and Esquivel, then board president, had their own email exchange last December after Korte disparaged APS’ efforts to obtain a $1 million grant. Esquivel said her remarks undermined the district’s efforts.

The recent exchange started when a parent who belongs to Stand4KidsNM sent an email to APS officials and board members complaining that some schools had pressured parents not to pull their students out of testing and had given out inaccurate information about such a move. Stand4KidsNM is made up of parents and school officials who oppose New Mexico’s teacher evaluations, high-stakes testing and “corporate education reforms.”

Maestas’ email response asked APS administrators to address the parent’s concerns. She told Korte – who had offered to bring parents to a board committee meeting to address the subject – that she should let district officials handle the matter.

“Sounds to me like you are overstepping your bounds as a board member and taking on an administrative position in the district,” Maestas wrote. “You need to back off as a board member and let the administration do their jobs.”

In responses, Korte wrote that she “sought a meeting so I could tell admin what parents and teachers are saying.”

Asked about the emails, Maestas said, “I’m not going to speak about Kathy, and I’m not going to speak about other board members.” Maestas said she wants the board to come together and speak with “one voice.”

Korte said she’s frustrated by criticism of her advocacy and has asked the board to hold a work session on what forms of advocacy are appropriate.

Esquivel said in an email that while board members have concerns with PED initiatives, the board should be talking with the state.

“We have major policy disagreements but the ability to dialogue in a civil manner remains a priority,” he wrote. Korte, in response, wrote that she doesn’t believe the PED is interested in having a serious discussion.

Esquivel also asked that the board discuss financial ramifications to the district if a large group of students opted out of standardized tests.