School Board Censures Lujan

by Staff Reporter / Sep 11, 2017 / comments
9423  In an unusual and contentious move, Former Espanola Public School Board President and current School Board Member Pablo Lujan was censured by his fellow board members at Thursday’s meeting.  In this photo Lujan listens while a move to censure him is read by current Board Vice President Yolanda Salazar at a Board meeting Sept. 6 at Carlos Vigil Middle School. The Censure motion claimed that Lujan made statements to the press that were “negative and demeaning.” The Board voted 3-1 in favor of the move with Lujan casting the lone vote against it. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

School Board Censures Lujan

By George Morse

The Espanola Public School Board voted 3-1 to censure fellow Board member Pablo Lujan for “Inappropriate action by a board member that was unbecoming of an elected official” at a Board meeting Sept. 6 at Carlos Vigil Middle School. In a prepared statement read by Board Vice President Yolanda Salazar that specifically cited statements by Lujan made to the press that were “negative and demeaning.”

​Espanola School Board Vice president Yolanda Salazar reads from a statement to move for the censure of Board Member Pablo Lujan at a Sept. 6 Board meeting at Carlos Vigil Middle School. The Board voted 3-1 in favor of the move to censure. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Board members who voted in favor of the censure were Gilbert Serrano, Board President Ruben Archuleta and Salazar, who added emphasis to her “Aye” vote with the statement “Absolutely.”

Lujan cast the lone vote against his censure. Board member Patrick Herrera was not present at the meeting.

Lujan had sought at the beginning of the meeting to drop the matter, which was listed under “Action Items” from the agenda which had been released to the public 72 hours prior to the meeting.

Salazar specifically mentioned articles in the Rio Grande Sun that were quoted Lujan making statements that were “discrediting to the board” and attempts to discredit Superintendent Bobbi Gutierrez over her hiring of personnel. Lujan did not support the hiring of Gutierrez as Superintendent, being the lone “No” vote in the 4-1 decision June 12 to hire Gutierrez.

Salazar also said that statements made to the press by Lujan following a settlement between parents of four former basketball players and former Espanola boys basketball coach Richard Martinez, his brother Eric Martinez and former District Superintendent Eric Martinez (no relation) could have resulted in legal action against the district.

Salazar called Lujan’s behavior “vindictive and destructive.”

Lujan defended himself, saying he felt that the Board was “Trying to censure me because I’ve spoken my opinion. That’s my right as a Board member.”

He also accused the action to censure him as “Politically motivated.”

The move to censure Lujan came near the end of the meeting. Prior to the move to censure, there was a presentation by the Carlos Vigil Middle School theater class that drew applause from the Board and those in attendance.

Middle School assistant principal Robert Quinones stated that the Public Address system at the Middle School was not working in about half of the school and that in “In the event of an emergency it was tough to get everybody on the same page.”

He also stated that a security guard had been “let go” and that there was now just one security guard at the school. He addressed the need for a security officer to be stationed in the lobby. When questioned about school security, Quinones stated that there was a system in place to communicate with everyone in the event of an emergency.

Superintendent Gutierrez discussed the need to hire a School Safety Security Manager, to install security cameras and create a school security plan. She said that there had been television monitors stolen “in broad daylight.”

Salazar questioned why it was taking so long to replace a carpet at Chimayo Elementary School Second-Grade class.

“It’s a health hazard,” she said. “I mean, it’s a carpet.”

The Board also discussed the naming of the new Central Office Building and whether to involve students in the process. Lujan felt that students would not have a proper understanding of the history of the District, to which Superintendent Gutierrez responded.

“I think you will be amazed at what the students decide,” she said. “They will figure it out.”

The next meeting of the School Board is scheduled for Sept. 20 at Carlos Vigil Middle School.