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APS mum on Brooks investigation

Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal

The Albuquerque Public Schools board will meet Monday to discuss an investigation into undisclosed concerns regarding Superintendent Winston Brooks, board president Analee Maestas said in a statement Thursday.

Analee Maestas

MAESTAS: Report will be discussed Monday

Maestas said she hired an attorney last month to investigate “a serious personnel issue” related to the superintendent.

She said the issue was raised during an executive session in July to discuss Brooks’ performance improvement plan.

“I felt that in the best interest of the school district, we had a duty to get to the bottom of the matter,” the statement said.

The report by attorney Agnes Padilla was delivered to Maestas on Wednesday afternoon.

“We have scheduled a special meeting for 5 p.m., Monday … which will include an executive session to discuss the matter with Mr. Brooks,” Maestas’ statement said. “Until that time, it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further.”

The board was scheduled to discuss the matter in a closed session during Wednesday’s board meeting, but it didn’t do so because of a dispute about procedure and the question of whether all board members should be present to discuss the report. Steven Michael Quezada was not at the meeting.

He said Thursday that he would be at the meeting Monday.

BROOKS: Acknowledges he was interviewed

BROOKS: Acknowledges he was interviewed

Board members have refused to say what the report pertains to, other than the fact that it concerns Brooks. Maestas and board members Don Duran and Marty Esquivel have seen the report.

Maestas would not give the report to the Journal, nor would she say what it was about because she said it was a personnel issue.

Susan Boe at the Foundation for Open Government said just because a document relates to personnel doesn’t mean it can necessarily be withheld. But she said she couldn’t say whether the report should be released without knowing what’s in it.

Brooks said Wednesday he knew “absolutely nothing” about the report. But on Thursday he acknowledged in an email that he had been interviewed by the attorney conducting the investigation. He declined to say what the lawyer asked him and he reiterated that he knew nothing about the report.

“I don’t know anything about a report,” Brooks wrote.

The board voted 3-3 to go into closed session Wednesday to discuss the issue. A tie vote fails.

Esquivel said he doesn’t understand why some of his colleagues on the board balked at going into closed session to discuss the report.

“I don’t know why you would want to wait to see it,” he said.

Board member David Peercy cited procedural reasons, saying Maestas did not have the authority to hire the attorney without a board vote.

“The procedure is the board gives her the authority. … In my opinion she did not have the authority,” Peercy said. “It’s just a procedural thing that I think has been a little sloppy.”

Peercy said that on Monday, he would like to go into closed session to discuss the procedural issue. After that, he wants the board to vote on whether to review the report before they actually do so.

Maestas, however, disagreed, as did Esquivel and board member Don Duran. They argued that the board president does have authority to hire an attorney as long as the cost doesn’t exceed $50,000.

Maestas said in her statement she had informed board members on July 18 that she would be hiring an attorney, and she said they consented to the hire.

Board member Kathy Korte agreed with Peercy, while board member Lorenzo Garcia said he voted against seeing the report Wednesday because he wants the full board and the attorney to be present.

Brooks was put on an improvement plan last year after he made a disparaging tweet about Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera. The details of the improvement plan were not made public.