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APS pays Moya $26K to do nothing

Copyright © 2015 Albuquerque Journal

Former Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Luis Valentino is officially off the district’s payroll, though his $80,000 settlement still awaits the New Mexico secretary of education’s signature.



At the same time, Chief Financial Officer Don Moya, whom Valentino put on paid administrative leave almost two months ago, remains on the payroll. He has been paid roughly $26,000 since his leave started Aug. 7 – he makes $171,649 annually – and there is no word on how much longer he will stay on that status.

Valentino stepped down as superintendent Aug. 31 and submitted his resignation effective Oct. 1. Under the terms of the agreement, he received his full salary until that date, a total of roughly $18,000.

The agreement also called for him to receive an $80,000 buyout, which APS will provide if Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera gives her approval.

The secretary’s desk is the final step in a process that also included a review by 2nd District Court Judge Denise Barela-Shepherd, who signed off on the agreement Sept. 17.

New Mexico Public Education Department spokesman Robert McEntyre wrote in an emailed statement Monday that the PED “has received the buyout proposal from the court and will review the district’s justifications as required by law.”

The state does not require that Skandera act by a particular deadline.



APS spokesman Rigo Chavez said he was not aware of any negative impact on the district if the approval takes some time.

He also could not say whether Valentino would ask for the $80,000 as a lump sum or negotiate a payment schedule.

Should Skandera not back the settlement, it would go back to the APS Board of Education, which would “consider the options,” Chavez said.

Skandera was critical of the deal shortly after it was announced.

“I’m highly skeptical of yet another big buyout by APS and have already heard from numerous constituents who are deeply troubled by the school board’s decision,” she wrote in an emailed statement Aug. 31. “While I plan to review the justification that APS is required to submit to me by law, I find the proposed buyout to be very concerning, and so does the public.”

Valentino came to APS in May after an administrative career with San Francisco Public Schools. He signed a three-year contract with APS for an annual salary of $240,000.

Moya in limbo

Another district expense has been the salary of Moya, APS’ chief financial officer, while he remains on paid administrative leave.

Interim CFO Tami Coleman has taken over his duties.

Kate Ferlic, Moya’s attorney, said APS still has not given any reason for the leave or an estimate of how long it might last.

“It is frustrating,” Ferlic said Monday. “They are leaving Don in limbo.”

On Aug. 24, Moya sued the APS board, Valentino and Skandera, alleging that he is a whistleblower targeted for his objections to a district systems audit and his lack of support for Gov. Susana Martinez.

Ferlic has subpoenaed text messages among Valentino, Skandera and former APS Deputy Superintendent Jason Martinez.

Attorneys for APS and Valentino filed motions to quash the subpoenas, citing privacy concerns.

“They are hiding behind the thought that there could have been medical information exchanged, but I don’t know why Dr. Valentino would be texting Secretary Skandera about her or his medical conditions,” Ferlic said. “The individuals were clearly conducting public business on their public and personal cellphones.”

Ferlic said she believes APS’ “strategy is delay.”

Chavez, APS’ spokesman, would say only that Moya remains on leave and that the district will not comment on the litigation.

Emails leaked to the media in August show Moya and Martinez arguing over the system audit, with Moya calling it a waste of taxpayer money.

In an Aug. 25 Journal interview, Valentino said Moya was overstepping his authority by canceling a request for proposal for the audit without consulting him.

Valentino placed Moya on paid administrative leave Aug. 7. Earlier that day, the superintendent had tried to send Skandera a text message saying he was going to “go after” Moya. The text accidentally went to Moya.

Martinez resigned from APS on Aug. 18, shortly after it came to light that he is facing assault and child sex assault charges in Denver.

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