Former PED secretary says she was blindsided by firing

New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – She wasn’t getting the job done leading the state’s public schools. The governor is giving new insight into why she fired her Public Education Secretary, Karen Trujillo.

Meanwhile, Trujillo says she was shocked. “I was surprised, disappointed they didn’t really give me a reason,” Trujillo says.

Back in January, the governor said Karen Trujillo was the perfect pick to lead New Mexico schools. “Her most recent stint is doing exactly the work that we know. We will create the changes we need to make for the future, Gov. Lujan Grisham said.

But that work wasn’t happening fast enough for the governor. Tuesday, a spokesman pointed out one of the problems, PED struggled in trying to get school districts to implement a longer school year for grades K-5.

Trujillo argues the districts just needed more time. “We were hoping there would be more schools that would do that, and hopefully next summer there will be, but with the four weeks districts had to prepare it was just a tough turnaround,” Trujillo says.

Trujillo, who’s from Las Cruces, has an extensive background in New Mexico schools and was easily confirmed by the state senate. The president of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation says Trujillo gave them hope again after a long battle with the Martinez administration.

“As teachers, our expectations of our new governor and her new secretary of education was to reverse, revise, repeal and revoke all of the punitive test-based policies,” says Ellen Bernstein, ATF President.

Bernstein says if the governor doesn’t believe Trujillo is the right person, she’s looking forward to working with the next leader. “I really want a visionary leader in New Mexico who really understands learning,” Bernstein says.

The governor’s office also said there were communication issues and incomplete or substandard work from Secretary Trujillo. Trujillo says she sent weekly updates to the governor and she stands by her work.

The governor’s office says it’s launched a nationwide search and plans to fill the position by the start of the school year.

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