Background Checks May Halt Community Programs

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Background Checks Mandates Halt EVCA Programs

By TARIN NIX
    Valley Daily Post

As stories continue to circulate about Albuquerque Public Schools’ issues with hiring sexual predators, New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller released a packet of information to school districts this week warning them of the consequences of schools not doing background checks. In a statement released on Tuesday, Keller noted that, “our state has seen problems with background checks and licenses in school districts in Albuquerque, Mora and Española.”

This issue was front and center at the Tuesday, Nov. 17 Española School Board meeting when Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez focused on where the district was at in the process and reiterated that all district employees are up-to-date on their background checks and fingerprinting. However, she noted that after speaking with the District’s attorney, Geno Zamora, it was clear that these background check and fingerprinting requirements would have to be applied to anyone working with Española Public Schools students or operating within the schools.  This matter was particularly important in the discussion of scheduling gyms for the Española Valley Community Activities (EVCA). Gutierrez noted the district is in the process of developing set rules surrounding background checks and fingerprinting for non-profits providing programs and services to the district. In order for EVCA coaches to participate on school property, they will need to submit to the new guidelines.  Gutierrez expressed that at least 25% of coaches are Española Public School Staff and she would be meeting with EVCA in November to discuss the new policies and ways the district and non-profits can work together to make this a smooth transition.

Gutierrez went on to discuss the successful partnerships happening between Rio Arriba County and the district.  Vanessa Gonzales with Rio Arriba County Substance, Treatment, Outreach and Prevention Program (RAC STOP) was on hand to discuss their work with the Española Valley High School Freshman Academy and the work they have done to educate boys on building a legacy and women on accepting themselves.  School Board Vice President Lucas Fresquez was quick to point out that on top of successful programs, he was excited for the work Gutierrez and staff had done to negotiate fleet maintenance services from the County for all District vehicles and buses.  Fresquez noted, “that this keeps the money in the Española Valley.  These partnerships improve our community and are a great, efficient use of our tax dollars.”

The next board work session on technology will be held on Thursday, November 19 at 6:00pm at the EPS Board Room and the next regularly scheduled board meeting will take place at Carlos F. Vigil Middle School on December 2 start at 5:30pm. 

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