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APS board member speaks up on issue

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education member Steven Michael Quezada addressed the controversy surrounding APS Chief Financial Officer Don Moya at Wednesday’s board meeting, saying he is “upset” that Superintendent Luis Valentino discussed district personnel issues with Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera.

QUEZADA: Says board should have been part of decision

QUEZADA: Says board should have been part of decision

“Perhaps it is my fault that some of this happened in the press, and maybe relationships were made because maybe we didn’t speak to this to the people that we brought in and let them know that … everybody has been totally against what is … coming from Santa Fe,” he said at the end of the meeting.

Quezada went on to say he is “a little concerned about matters of personnel going to the secretary of education,” rather than to him or other board members.

“There was no email (to him about Moya) and there was no text, and that concerns me,” he added.

In an interview with the Journal after the meeting, Quezada said his major gripe is that Valentino privately reached out to Skandera, “somebody we’re not working with,” about a sensitive APS personnel matter. In fact, Quezada said, Skandera was more in the loop than he was.

On Aug. 7, Valentino had tried to text Skandera saying he was going to “go after” Moya for running “roughshot.” Instead, the text accidentally went to Moya, who was placed on paid administrative later that day.

Quezada said he thinks the board should have been involved in deciding whether to share information about Moya with Skandera.

“That is what I’m upset about – he (Valentino) knows what I’m upset about,” Quezada said. “We need to separate politics from education. But I am realistic that is never going to happen as there is a PED (New Mexico Public Education Department). … Their agenda is political; we know it is. It has nothing to do with educating children.”

Quezada would not address Moya’s actions or say what he feels should happen to him, saying that is a “private personnel matter.”

The controversy surrounding the situation grew Friday when emails came to light showing Moya questioning new Deputy Superintendent Jason Martinez about sending out a request for proposals on an APS information technology assessment to a company that recently employed a disgraced former Denver Public Schools administrator.

In the email exchange, Moya and Martinez wrangled over who has the authority to cancel the RFP, with Moya saying he believes he has raised reasonable concerns about the RFP that need to be addressed.

Although Quezada said it is “unfortunate this is how we started,” he stressed that he still believes in Valentino, who became superintendent in June after a career as a high-ranking administrator with San Francisco Public Schools.

“He is a very smart and educated man that brings a great knowledge from really big school districts to this community,” Quezada added. “We don’t want to alienate him; we want to embrace him. … He is a great man, and we are going to do brilliant, great things.”

The next step, Quezada feels, should be to “move positively forward” and let Valentino “know what our game plan really is” regarding Skandera and PED.

The only official to discuss the Moya situation at the meeting, Quezada said he was speaking out because his phone “almost exploded” when he landed in Miami on his way home from an overseas job where he had no cellphone service.

“I am here to represent my constituents,” he explained. “I am not here to blow smoke. And I am going to tell you, for the rest of my term as a school board member, I refuse to blow any more smoke.”