Saturday, November 27, 2010
APS Superintendent's Motives Questioned
By Hailey Heinz
Journal Staff Writer
Some key members of the Rio Grande High School community look forward to welcoming Ruby Ethridge as their new assistant principal.
But they have doubts about Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Winston Brooks' motives in placing her there.
"I hope he isn't thinking in his own mind that this is a dumping ground for disgruntled employees," said former state Sen. James Taylor, who is on the school's instructional council.
Brooks announced Monday that Ethridge, who until then was the associate superintendent for middle schools, would be reassigned to Rio Grande as the assistant principal for curriculum. That position has been vacant since the start of the school year.
Ethridge spent a week on paid leave after an e-mail exchange in which she accused Brooks of harassing, yelling and belittling her.
In that exchange, Brooks wrote, "I see no way that you will be able to continue working on the District Leadership Team. I have little time for this kind of behavior and certainly do not want to place my complete trust and confidence in a person who (has) made these types of allegations."
Ethridge has not returned calls for comment since she was placed on leave. Brooks could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but APS spokeswoman Monica Armenta said the Rio Grande position was a good fit for Ethridge.
"That position has been open for the entire school year and no one has applied," she said. "In terms of anyone available with the credentials, Ruby is an excellent choice for Rio Grande High School at this point."
Esther Rivera, an active Rio Grande parent, said she has always been impressed with Ethridge, but she also resents the implications of the transfer.
"For Winston Brooks to sort of use this school like Siberia — 'Ruby, we're going to send you to Siberia' — that really is indicative that this is a man who doesn't do things based on student needs. He's not making decisions based on the best fit for the school," Rivera said. "That really is very demeaning to the community."
Ethridge will continue to collect her $117,300 salary through the end of fiscal year, per APS policy. After that, she will earn the maximum starting salary for an assistant principal, which is $71,875. The reassignment means a $45,425 annual cut in pay.
The school year got off to a rough start at Rio Grande, after then-principal Cynthia Challberg-Hale found errors in the master class schedule and deleted it. The schedules could not be rebuilt in time for school, and students did not get permanent class schedules until after Labor Day. Challberg-Hale was reassigned to an instructional management position in September, and APS Chief Academic Officer Linda Sink is acting principal for the rest of the school year.
Rivera said despite the circumstances of Ethridge's reassignment, she will be welcomed by the Rio Grande community.
"We'll welcome her and help her in any way we can," she said. "We'll try and utilize her talents as long as we have her."