LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) – The entire Los Lunas school board has been suspended due to evidence that certain members have violated procurement and public access laws, the state Public School Code, and professional ethical standards, according to a release from the New Mexico Public Education Department. The release states Secretary Ryan Stewart informed the five-member elected board of the suspension in a letter that also directed Superintendent Arsenio Romero to begin reporting directly to Stewart.
The suspended school board consists of President Eloy G. Giron, Vice President P. David Vickers, Secretary Frank A. Otero and members Bryan C. Smith and Steven R. Otero. The members are not allowed to contact school staff or use school equipment or facilities during the indefinite suspension, and they cannot use the board’s attorney to represent them.
The release states, the PED warned the board of violations in November. They also report they followed that by providing training to board members in January and March regarding the laws and rules.
The release states that the letter sent, said PED has credible evidence of the following violations by one or more board members:
Public Access Concerns
- Knowingly misrepresenting information in public meetings;
- Violating the Open Meetings Act by using rolling quorums;
- Acting on matters not described with reasonable specificity on board meeting agendas;
- Violating the Inspection of Public Records Act by refusing to produce records as required.
- Interfering with district contracts and not following the Procurement Code;
- Directly asking or demanding a vendor to redo a part of a contract;
- Attempting to extort vendors by suggesting they would receive a district contract if they agreed to personally enrich a board member;
- Soliciting bids;
- Providing confidential bid information to potential vendors;
- Demanding contracts for goods and services be awarded to certain vendors, bypassing appropriate procurement procedures;
- Soliciting services and contracts without working with the district’s chief procurement officer and central procurement office.
(Possible violations of board policy and/or Public School Code)
- Addressing a district employee in an inappropriate and threatening manner in a public meeting;
- Inducing an employee to lie about a supervisor;
- Falsifying allegations about financial misconduct of school administrative personnel;
- Attempting to extort school administrative, support and maintenance personnel through intimidation and threats;
- Interfering with personnel matters, including demanding the demotion, suspension and/or termination of school personnel, decisions and responsibilities properly assigned by law to the superintendent;
- Interfering with overall district operations;
- Demanding family members be hired, in violation of prohibitions on nepotism;
- Interfering with the superintendent and administrative staff roles.