If you asked Española School Board members who the superintendent works for, each would probably reply, the Board. Technically it does hire and fire the superintendent but he and all his minions are paid by taxpayers. And the Board will surely agree they’re responsible in some way to taxpayers, reluctantly.
Their furtive actions over the summer regarding former superintendent Fred Trujillo’s miscues, peccadilloes or inaction sends a clear signal no Board member feels an obligation to the public to report on the top administrator’s situation.
Why are they all terrified to speak of the investigation and subsequent clearing of former superintendent Fred Trujillo? Putting aside the swirling rumors of impropriety, the investigation allegedly made Trujillo once again palatable enough for the Board. They love to fall back on “personnel matters,” and “following the advice of legal council,” as reasons to not provide public information.
Let’s start with the almost weekly closed, secret sessions in which the Board meets in private to discuss much more than instigating an investigation of Trujillo, getting updates and then reviewing the final results.
The Board did not meet for two to three hours multiple times to discuss an investigation or Trujillo’s performance. There is much more than what President Gilbert Serrano repeats after each secret session, “No decisions were made.”
These are always followed by Board member Jeremy Maestas reading a vague motion (decided upon in a secret meeting) to give Trujillo direction or authorize someone to do something that is usually incomprehensible, proven by asking Board members after a meeting, “What did that motion mean?”
The answer is always, “We followed legal advice.” Maybe the lawyer should run for school Board since none of these guys (the only woman, Yolanda Salazar mysteriously resigned under a cloud of suspicions) seem to know what to do or what is going on.
When the Rio Grande SUN tries to obtain public documents that would explain what the Board decided during closed session. Board members won’t answer valid questions to which the public is entitled.
Hiding behind “personnel matters” only goes as far as valid opinion and sensitive issues. The result of an investigation is factual and open to the public.
The Board reviewed the investigation during a secret meeting Sept. 2 and after that review decided to put Trujillo back to work after a summer of paid leave. When the SUN requested the investigation from District records custodian Ashley Vigil we were told the request was “broad and burdensome” and it would take 15 days to produce the documents.
We suggested she ask one of the Board members for a copy since they all read it the previous evening.
Right now the public only knows that Trujillo was placed on leave for some investigation. What that investigation encompassed remains speculation. We know Salazar quit or was asked to resign and we don’t know if it was related to the Trujillo investigation for actions while he was Pecos School District superintendent or something else.
We know after many hours of secret meetings, the Board sent him a list of secret instructions, which are also public record, but have not been made public, and placed him back in the superintendent’s seat.
Of course after a summer of public speculation, rumors and an “investigation,” he resigned. Who would stay after that shellacking? It’s not too difficult to guess who is threatening to sue the District. Trujillo’s job application is now radioactive.
According to the Board, the vague and as-yet undisclosed investigation revealed no wrong-doing on Trujillo’s part but would a school Board consider him to lead its District following the Pecos debacle and then the secret summer of indecision?