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Fight over contractor sparked APS clash

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Conflict over a possible Albuquerque Public Schools contract with a controversial tech company appears to have played a role in Superintendent Luis Valentino’s falling-out with APS chief financial officer Don Moya, who was put on paid administrative leave after the superintendent texted that he was going to go after him because he was “running roughshot.”

Emails obtained by the Journal on Friday show that Moya and new APS Deputy Superintendent Jason Martinez, one of the two high-ranking administrators Valentino brought with him when he took over as superintendent in June, arguing over whether to issue a request for proposal to the information technology company, with Moya resisting.

Monica Armenta, APS spokeswoman, confirmed that the emails are authentic and that they concern Advanced Network Management, which has offices in Denver and Albuquerque. She said she didn’t know what kind of work the company might do for the school district, but ANM’s website lists services such as information technology security, networking and cloud storage solutions.

ANM’s chief operating officer, Bud Bullard, was fired from his position as Denver Public Schools IT director in 2013 amid allegations of receiving improper gifts from vendors working with the district, according to news reports.

One of these vendors reportedly tried to gain an advantage in getting contracts by giving Bullard a trip to the Bahamas and hiring his father, who also had worked for the Denver school district.

The emails between Moya and Martinez, written Aug. 6, show the two wrangling about who has the authority to order or cancel a request for proposal with ANM.

In one email, Moya said he had asked an APS procurement division staff member “to hold on any further work on this RFP until my concerns have been addressed. As acting Executive Director of Procurement and the Chief Financial Officer, it is within my authority to do so.”

Martinez countered: “Not your call Don. The work will move forward as planned.”

Moya disagreed.

“As CFO of the district with procurement under my purview it is absolutely my call unless directed otherwise by the Superintendent,” he wrote in the next email, which he directed to Martinez and copied to a number of people, including Valentino, APS board President Don Duran and board member Peggy Muller-Arag√≥n.

Moya added: “I don’t report to you Jason and procurement is not under your purview. … I don’t believe the concerns I raised are unreasonable and I expect them to be addressed.”

The concerns Moya raised in earlier emails included Bullard’s firing for taking “kickbacks” and the question of whether “this the most important issue facing the district (APS) at this time?”

“I believe there are larger issues on the curriculum and instruction side that should be addressed first,” Moya wrote.

He also questioned APS’ intentions in sending the RFP.

“From my perspective it looks like a thinly veiled attempt to pay a contractor to grab the low hanging fruit and tell the district what it already knows,” he wrote. “Or is there a hidden agenda that I am not aware of?”

The morning after this email exchange, on Aug. 7, Valentino attempted to text New Mexico Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera that Moya was “running roughshot” and “controls a lot of d financials,” adding that he was going to “go after” Moya in the next few weeks. In fact, the superintendent accidentally sent the text to Moya.

Skandera has said superintendents often inform her about personnel matters involving senior staff.

Moya was placed on paid administrative leave later on Aug. 7.

Asked for more details about whether APS was still pursing a contract with ANM, Armenta said, “There is no contract with that company, and there is no RFP at the moment to solicit one.”

Regarding lines of authority at APS, Armenta said the chief financial officer reports to the superintendent.

Both Valentino and Martinez are new in their positions, coming to APS this summer. Valentino was formerly superintendent of curriculum and chief academic officer at the San Francisco Unified School District; Martinez was vice president for education solutions at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a publishing company.

Moya has been CFO since July 2010.