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Texting turmoil at APS

Copyright © 2015 Albuquerque Journal

A text message purportedly sent by the new Albuquerque Public Schools superintendent early Friday morning complaining about APS Chief Financial Officer Don Moya running “roughshot” appears to have triggered a chain of events that left Moya on paid administrative leave Friday.

a01_jd_11aug_moyaThe text exchange shows Superintendent Luis Valentino trying to communicate with New Mexico Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera but accidentally contacting Moya himself – who tried to alert his boss that he had the wrong party on the other end of the text.

“Mrng Hanna,” it begins, followed by a response message reading: “This is Don not Hanna. Need her number?”

Apparently not noticing this, Valentino sends another message that says: “I am going to go after Don Moya in d next couple of weeks. My concern is that he has been allowed to ride roughshot over here and controls a lot of d financials. We are also trying to sell a bond. Our rating could be jeopardized. Any ideas?”

The above text is as it appeared, including apparent typos and misspellings.

Neither Valentino nor Moya could be reached for comment Monday.

Asked to confirm or deny that the text was sent to Moya by Valentino, APS spokeswoman Monica Armenta refused to comment, saying it concerns a private personnel matter.

Don Moya

APS Chief Financial Officer Don Moya

Asked the same question by the Journal, APS board President Don Duran and members David Peercy and Lorenzo Garcia declined to comment, as well.

The texts apparently were sent early Friday and were posted Sunday on the Twitter account of Angry NMTeacher, as well as Stand4KidsNM, the Facebook page of Former APS Board member Kathy Korte.

Korte did not respond to calls from the Journal, but her screen shot of the texts included a lengthy commentary on Moya’s status, saying, “Let’s hope Don Moya, APS’ chief financial officer, is vindicated in this latest fiasco led by politics and not the needs of children and teachers of our district.”

Korte’s Facebook post also calls Moya “a man of true integrity and honor” who has managed APS budgets well, maintaining a AAA bond rating.

Each year, Standard & Poor’s Financial Services assigns APS’ bond rating, a measure of creditworthiness that affects bond sales, including one in the works that would yield $70 million for the purchase of school materials, including computers.

It’s unclear what Valentino meant in his reference to Moya and concerns over the bond rating.

The texts also have tapped into politics surrounding APS and its relationships with the New Mexico Public Education Department and Gov. Susana Martinez.

APS Superintendent Luis Valentino

APS Superintendent Luis Valentino

Korte’s Facebook post concludes by criticizing the superintendent, calling him “a new fox in the APS hen house” who is “working with the wolves of Hanna Skandera and Gov. Martinez.”

Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Ellen Bernstein, in response to a Journal question, also wondered about Valentino’s intentions.

“It would break our hearts if APS just hired a superintendent who cared more about working with the secretary of ed than the employees of the district,” she said. “The people who work in public education do not see Secretary Skandera as an ally. … We want someone who cares about teaching and learning, not just high-stakes testing. People have a very political question in their minds: Who is our new superintendent aligned with?”

PED spokesman Robert McEntyre said that Skandera communicates regularly with superintendents across the state and that it’s not unusual for them to notify her of personnel changes that may affect interactions with her department.

Martinez said she was aware of a text between Valentino and a person he thought was Skandera, though she had not read the text exchange as of Monday afternoon. She said it would be appropriate for Valentino to communicate with Skandera if he wanted to discuss an employee at Moya’s level.

Moya handles accounting, accounts payable and budgets at APS, a role Martinez said would be worthy of state-level discussion.

This is not the first time the etiquette surrounding modern communications has created controversy for APS.

Former Superintendent Winston Brooks got into hot water in 2013 for tweets referencing Skandera and livestock.

“Maybe Skandy should head for the livestock truck!!!” he wrote, followed by “Moo, Moo, Oink, Oink!!”

He eventually was suspended for the tweets.

Journal Staff Writer Maggie Shepard contributed to this report.

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