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IT firm boss says APS blowup is ‘internal battle’

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Jason Martinez “directly solicited help” on a potential large-scale APS information technology project from a disgraced former Denver Public Schools administrator – who recently resigned from the company at the center of Martinez’s heated email exchange with APS Chief Financial Officer Don Moya.

That’s according to Advanced Network Management CEO Raminder Mann, who said Martinez sought out Bud Bullard, former ANM chief operating officer, because the two had worked together at the Denver school district. Martinez held various positions there from 2000 to 2012, including deputy of academic operations.

The email exchange between Martinez and Moya, and subsequent events, have roiled the district and eventually led to Moya being put on paid administrative leave.

Mann said his company is a reputable one that got caught up in the infighting.

“It is more of their internal battle,” Mann said in a Journal interview Monday.

“We got in the middle of it. … Honestly, this is a communication gap within the (APS) leadership.”

Moya was placed on administrative leave Aug. 7 after APS Superintendent Luis Valentino accidentally sent him “an errant text” saying he was going to “go after” him for running “roughshot.” Valentino’s text to Moya, subsequently obtained by the Journal, was intended for New Mexico Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera.

Valentino became superintendent in June and brought in Martinez as his top deputy.

Mann said in an email statement to the Journal on Saturday that Bullard resigned July 29 and is “no longer associated” with ANM “in any way.” His departure came roughly a week before Moya and Martinez argued over email about a possible APS contract with the company.

Mann would not reveal why Bullard left ANM, where he had worked for 18 months, but said he had done nothing wrong in relation to the possible APS contract.

“He was answering questions; he was trying to help them understand from an IT standpoint,” Mann said.

Bullard was fired from Denver Public Schools in 2013 amid allegations of receiving improper gifts from district vendors, according to news reports.

Talks ended?

Mann said he had heard no complaints from APS about Bullard’s presence in the company, explaining that the first he knew of such concerns was after reading the news coverage published after the Aug. 6 email exchange was leaked Friday.

One email includes Moya’s comment that Martinez proposed “a vendor that had been fired from the Denver Public Schools for taking … kickbacks.”

Mann said he was puzzled that Bullard was a topic of discussion at APS because he said district administrators knew he was no longer with the company.

“We did meet with the APS IT staff, and they were aware that Mr. Bullard was no longer with ANM prior to that date,” Mann said. “And my understanding is that Mr. Martinez was aware as well.”

In addition, Mann said ANM and APS both determined in late July that ANM was a poor fit for the proposed APS project, which would be an IT audit that had expanded to include examination of financial and payroll systems, areas where ANM doesn’t have expertise.

“We really thought all of that was over even before these emails came out,” Mann said.

This impression is confirmed by an email from Moya released by Valentino on Monday afternoon.

On July 22, Moya wrote: “Per the Superintendent, the district will not be engaging ANM for the district-wide systems audit. He has directed an RFP be done after the scope (of the project) has been written.”

Martinez and Bullard could not be reached for comment Monday.

Valentino issued a brief statement Monday with the new emails.

“It’s unfortunate that a personnel issue has been forced into the headlines on these first days of school when our focus should be on our students,” he wrote. “Though we’re a public entity, we must respect the legal and privacy rights of our employees, which limits the amount of information we can share with the media.”

Behind the scenes

Mann provided his own view of what he thinks is going on at APS, which is hinted at in the newly released email from Moya.

He believes the district was still preparing an RFP for the IT assessment at the time of Moya and Martinez’s Aug. 6 emails, with plans to send it to other tech companies.

“The way I read it (the email exchange) was that Mr. Moya wanted the RFP work to stop,” Mann said. “We were out of it. They were working on writing those (RFP) requirements internally.”

Mann theorized that Moya believed he had a good sense of the problems with the APS financial system and was worried the district was going to pay for information he already knows.

ANM, which has offices in Denver and Albuquerque, is still doing business with APS, helping with network support, a role the company has held for 14 years. This work is conducted through a state contract, so ANM has no direct contracts with APS at this time, Mann said.

Mann said ANM serves many divisions in the state government and had no involvement with Bullard’s issues in Denver.

Asked if he was concerned about giving Bullard the chief operating officer job, Mann said: “We hired him one year after he left Denver Public Schools, so there was a big gap between and we assumed it was in the past. We knew the rumors, but since he wasn’t prosecuted for anything, we didn’t think too much of it.”

Bullard was well qualified for his position, Mann said, explaining that his role was project management with almost no part in securing new customers.

“He only got involved after someone purchased something from us,” Mann said. “In this situation, the reason he was front and center is that he knew Mr. Martinez.”

A new hire who started work at APS in June, Martinez was most recently vice president of the education solutions group at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a publishing company.

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