The news the New Mexico Public Education Department Secretary Ryan Stewart indefinitely suspended the entire Los Lunas Board of Education wasn’t necessarily surprising, though it was a bit jarring.
Stewart announced his decision on May 26, saying the LLS Board of Education — Eloy Giron, Frank Otero, Steven Otero, Bryan Smith and David Vickers — were suspended due to “credible evidence that certain board members have persistently violated procurement and public access laws, the Public School Code, and professional ethics standards.”
When we elect people to office, we trust they’ll do what’s expected of them — to make fair and just decisions, to act morally and with good judgment, and to hold themselves to higher standards. Some might resent it while others value it as a measure of the public’s trust.
While not all five members are facing accusations of misconduct and potentially criminal acts, the secretary had no choice but to follow state statute in suspending the entire board. As the saying goes, “a few bad apples can spoil the bunch.”
Time and time again, this board has been made aware of concerns of its “bad behaviors,” but certain members didn’t listen — even after they were mandated to attend training. The alleged infractions range from violating the Open Meetings Act and Inspection of Public Records Act to violations of the procurement code.
However, what’s most disturbing, if true, are the allegations that at least one member attempted to extort vendors by implying they would get a contract if they would “personally enrich a board member.” Equally disturbing, a member allegedly addressed a district employee in a threatening manner, and falsified claims of financial misconduct.
It’s still unknown whether these certain board members will face any criminal charges, but what we do know is the confidence of their constituents has been shaken. This is truly a sad state of affairs. These members have not only disappointed the district, administrators, teachers, staff, students and the community, but they’ve given everyone a reason to distrust them when and if they return to office.
We need to demand from those who receive the privilege of our votes to conduct themselves with dignity and class. These are the people we tell our children to look up to, who we trust to make decisions that directly impact our lives. We, the people, bestowed upon them a great gift — our vote that we can easily regift.