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APS board debates Brooks’ fate

Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal

Carla Gandara, deputy chief for Albuquerque Public Schools, stands guard outside the closed-door meeting of the APS board Monday night. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Carla Gandara, deputy chief for Albuquerque Public Schools, stands guard outside the closed-door meeting of the APS board Monday night. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Albuquerque school board members met in closed session for five hours regarding a “serious personnel issue” involving Superintendent Winston Brooks, but adjourned late Monday night without taking action.

After the meeting, in which board members considered possible disciplinary action against Brooks, board members said – nothing.

Board president Analee Maestas told a group of reporters she had no comment.


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“I can’t talk,” said board member Marty Esquivel as he left the district headquarters.

Board members hastily left the meeting from doors on opposite sides of the room and none was found in other locations, such as the lobby.

Brooks was present for the meeting and was accompanied by Maureen Sanders, his attorney. He was not there, however, when the board adjourned shortly after 10 p.m.

The board gave no indication of what its next step might be, or whether it plans to meet again this week on this matter. It has a regularly scheduled meeting Friday.

School board members have not said publicly what their concerns are regarding Brooks. Nor have they released a report detailing the findings of an attorney hired to look into the concerns.

Maestas ordered the investigation by a private attorney of an undisclosed issue concerning Brooks that was raised during an executive session in July. That attorney’s report was the focus of Monday’s meeting.

At the beginning of Monday’s meeting, the board – with all seven members present – voted unanimously to go into the closed session.

That was not the case Wednesday, when the board was split over whether to go into closed session to discuss the report written by attorney Agnes Padilla.


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

Three board members at the Wednesday meeting voted to go into closed session, while three others voted no. Board member Steven Michael Quezada was not present for Wednesday’s meeting. A tie vote fails.

Board members who voted no said they didn’t agree with Maestas’ decision to hire an attorney and that they wanted all board members to be present to discuss the report.

Maestas said she told board members about her decision to hire the attorney in July, before she made the hire. She argued she had the authority to hire an attorney as long as the cost didn’t exceed $50,000.

Those who voted to go into closed session Wednesday said they didn’t see the point in waiting to see the report.

Brooks was hired in 2008 to head the state’s largest school district, which has 86,000 students. His base salary is $250,000.

He has been on an improvement plan since he made a disparaging tweet about Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera late last year. The details of the improvement plan have not been made public.

Before coming to Albuquerque, Brooks had previously been the superintendent of Wichita, Kan. Public schools.