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Española schools now working with PED

SANTA FE — With a new school board in place in Española and the superintendent now on administrative leave, the school district is working to make amends with the state Public Education Department, which took financial control of the district in November.

“I think we’re getting things back on track. We’re trying to do things right,” Ruben Archuleta, president of the school board, said in a phone interview Friday.

Archuleta is part of a new majority on the school board, which last week placed Superintendent Eric Martinez on administrative leave.

Martinez is still under the scrutiny of PED, which in the past four months has twice placed him on a 30-day notice and required him to submit a corrective action plan regarding how he proposed to address such issues as bullying and student safety within the district.

Martinez recently provided PED with an 11-page letter outlining his plan after the department determined a previous response was insufficient.

Martinez said he would require staff to undergo mandatory training to “prevent and eventually eliminate intimidation and bullying,” revamp security — including the installation of surveillance cameras — and shore up staffing with qualified teachers in classrooms, rather than rely so heavily on substitutes.

A PED spokeswoman said Friday that Martinez’s letter is under review and a response is being prepared.

Archuleta says some elements of Martinez’s plan are already being implemented. He said the school board is also reviewing contracts the district has with certain vendors that are under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office.

One of those contracts is with Trujillo Media, formally 2Smooth Marketing, which has a $50,000 per year contract with the school district. The company is owned by Barney Trujillo, a Rio Arriba County commissioner whose Chimayó home was raided by investigators from the Attorney General’s Office in January. Investigators were also requesting invoices, purchase orders, work logs and bank statements relating to Trujillo’s company from the school district.

Archuleta said the school board discussed that contract during its Wednesday meeting.

“A couple of board members expressed concern about deliverables. Has student enrollment increased? Are we getting our money’s worth? That whole situation has left a sour taste in people’s mouths,” he said.

Archuleta said that contract and others, including one with Rio Arriba County to place deputies at the middle school and high school, will be taken up at the board’s next meeting April 5.