Saturday, December 28, 2013

APS administration clears self of inappropriate behavior

In the Journal this morning, link, we found that an investigation of APS by APS found no wrong doing by APS.

The investigation was conducted by APS School Police detectives.  The APS Police force reports directly to and only to, the leadership of the APS.  As a police force they are without certification or accreditation by anyone but themselves.  They are accountable to no one except themselves.

The very act of self investigation creates the appearance of a conflict of interests; the same administration that conducted the investigation had a manifest interest in finding no wrong doing. 

It is a conflict of interests on its face.

APS was not required to conduct this investigation themselves.  At best, the law may "allow" them to self-investigate allegations of their own felony criminal misconduct.

If not in violation of the law, they appear to have conducted the investigation in violation of a Memorandum of Understanding with Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston.  They had assured him that they would hand over investigations of what may be felony criminal misconduct, to the APD or BCSO for their impartial and independent investigation.

Why would the leadership of the APS choose to self investigate in the face of a manifest conflict of interests?

Why wouldn't they?  Who's going to do anything about it?

Obviously the Journal sees nothing wrong with APS' ongoing self investigations nor with the cover ups of criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators.

An important distinction needs to be pointed out. If the APD or BCSO had conducted this investigation, either of them would produce the public records of their investigation in response to a request for public records.  Because this is APS investigating itself, few if any public records will have been created and, those that were will secreted from public knowledge because the investigation was "internal" and a "personnel issue" and therefore not subject to the requirements of the Inspection of Public records Act except on "the order of a judge in the highest court of competent jurisdiction".

Consider that these are the very same folks who have been hiding the truth about corruption in the leadership of the APS Police force since 2007, link.  Felonies were committed and APS never surrendered any of the evidence of them to the District Attorney for prosecution.

Statutes of limitation were allowed to expire, no charges were ever filed.

The Journal knew about it, the Journal knows about it and the Journal continues to aid and abet in the cover up of the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Disability and disruption or more specifically; chronic disability and chronic disruption.


constantly vexing, weakening, or troubling.
There are students in the APS who have been determined to have "disorders". The manifestations of some of their disorders create disruption in the classrooms and on the campuses where they take place.

Students with disorders have the same right to public school education as do students without disorders.

Students without disorders have the same right to public school education as do students with disorders.

A survey of students and adults who work with students would reveal a widespread belief that some disorders more than others, are creating great disturbances in classrooms and on campuses.  Those disturbances interfere with the right of other students to an educationally efficient environment.

The leadership of the APS has decided that no data will be compiled that documents the cost of unnecessarily enabling chronically disruptive students to continue to disrupt classrooms and school campuses.

If they did compile a record, it would be a record of failure to protect the rights of students and teachers who do not disrupt education and would rather that their own educations not be disrupted.

The enforcement of district and school discipline policies is first and foremost an administrative responsibility. The record, if one existed, or a survey if one were to be taken, would document administrative mis, mal and nonfeasance in enforcing school and district discipline policies.

An illustrative example;
Despite the fact the students are specifically and expressly forbidden by APS School Board Policy to "sag", they still do.
Not APS students as far as I know, but easily could have been.

A chronicle about student discipline in the APS is newsworthy.

It does not appear in the "news" because "the news" would rather help the leadership of the APS hide the problem than address it effectively.

Shame on the news; shame on the leadership of the APS.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"My (APS) school has an adequate response to bullying."

APS going to survey parents, link. The first survey item reads;

1. My (APS) school has an adequate response to bullying.
How would parents know if their child's school does or doesn't have an adequate response to bullying?

They would base their opinions on information and experience. If they have no experience, they must base their opinion on information alone.  That information could be informal and anecdotal, or it could be actual data.

There is no actual data on bullying in APS.

APS steadfastly refuses to share real data on bullying, chronically disruptive students, or student discipline problems in general.   I suspect it is because they have gathered none. The best APS can do is offer some statistics on bullying and vandalism conflated (for who knows what reason).

If students can name bullies at their school, then there has not been an adequate response to bullying at their school.

APS is yet to produce the truth on student discipline and bullying. They have yet to share their record, their current efforts and their future plans to enforce discipline policies and deal with chronically disruptive students and bullies. Why? except to hide the truth?

A significant number of parents who complete the survey will report what the administration has reported to them; everything is hunky dory.  This though, an independent audit found administrators routinely falsifying crime statistics to manipulate public perception of schools.

It's time for the leadership of the APS to come clean on student discipline problems and the effects they and chronically disruptive students have on the education of other students.

APS Police ignore MOU with the County Sheriff.

According to the Journal this morning, link, an investigation is being conducted by the APS Police force.  Allegedly, a principal bashed a student's head against a wall.  If true, it would seem that a felony "may have" been committed.  According to NM State Statutes;

Aggravated battery
30-3-5. Aggravated battery .
A. Aggravated battery consists of the unlawful touching or application of force to the person of another with intent to injure that person or another.
B. Whoever commits aggravated battery , inflicting an injury to the person which is not likely to cause death or great bodily harm, but does cause painful temporary disfigurement or temporary loss or impairment of the functions of any member or organ of the body, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
C. Whoever commits aggravated battery inflicting great bodily harm or does so with a deadly weapon or does so in any manner whereby great bodily harm or death can be inflicted is guilty of a third degree felony.(emphasis added)
History: 1953 Comp., § 40A-3-5, enacted by Laws 1963, ch. 303, § 3-5; 1969, ch. 137, § 1.
Any investigation by the APS Police force, of felony criminal misconduct, is specifically and explicitly prohibited by a Memorandum of Understanding between the APS and Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston.  The MOU, link, prohibits the APS Police force from investigating felonies.
h. Any report of a crime which may be determined to be a felony offense, excluding property crimes, shall be promptly reported to and investigated by BCSD or APD. (emphasis added)
The ball is in Houston's court; will he enforce his MOU or let them slide?

APS is prohibited from investigating felonies because the last time they investigated their own felony criminal misconduct, they hid the findings from prosecutors.  They hide them still.

An additional wrinkle;

APS "spokeswoman" Monica Armenta spoke to the Journal on behalf of the APS.

The Journal for some reason calls her a "spokeswoman" as opposed to using her title; APS Executive Director of Communications.

Armenta shared from the records of an ongoing investigation;
"(APS) investigators who talked with the child at the hospital said there were no visible signs of injury to him."
She and the Journal shared that information in APS' interests.  Anyone else looking for public records and information would be told they are sealed because, there is an "ongoing investigation".

APS doesn't tell the truth; not about "ongoing" investigations and not about long closed investigations.

Ms Armenta,
Why will APS not produce ethically redacted public records and findings of investigations into public corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS police force circa 2006-7, link?
Not "how" does APS hides those ethically redacted records (legal loopholes, technicalities and weaselry), but "why"?  Why will APS not tell the ethically redacted truth to stakeholders about public corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS police force?

Why do Kent Walz and the Journal aid and abet?

photos Mark Bralley

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Retaliation alleged in APS

KKOB talk show host Billy Cornelius expressed some concern the other night, over a story he had heard.  Apparently a teacher was alleged to have taped a student's mouth shut, another teacher reported the incident, was retaliated against, and now is now suing APS.  It begs a question or two.

  1. Does the leadership of the APS retaliate against whistle blowers? 
  2. Does it make any difference if they do?
To the first; they do.  To the second; yes, it does.

Independent auditors from the Council of the Great City Schools, found a culture of fear of retaliation in the APS against whistle blowers and other complainants.

Retaliation is a bad management tool.  Powerful people use it to protect themselves from consequences of their corruption and incompetence.  Retaliation has no good and ethical use in the administration of the APS.  It makes a considerable difference whether there is a culture of fear of retaliation for filing complaints.

Does the leadership of the APS use fear of retaliation as a tool to avoid honest accountability for their conduct and competence?

The answer is easily found. All you have to do is ask. APS employees could be easily surveyed;
Does fear of retaliation discourage you from filing legitimate complaints against administrators or school board members?
A simple anonymous survey of employees would settle the question at once and for all.

If a culture of fear is confirmed, it would need to be eliminated.  The issue would be newsworthy.

If the preexisting culture of fear has been eliminated, it would be evidence of a monumental managerial achievement.  It would be just as newsworthy.

Kent Walz and the Journal will not investigate and report upon the culture of fear of retaliation in the APS.

Walz is yet to articulate the reasoning that compels him to ignore credible evidence of an ethics and accountability scandal in the administrative and executive leadership of the APS.

I suspect he is in cahoots in the cover up.

APS Supt Winston Brooks will not claim that he has eliminated, or even ameliorated fear of retaliation against whistle blowers, because he has not.

Quite the opposite; he is the subject of numerous complaints that he engages personally in retaliation against complainants.

For as long as the leadership of the APS is enabled by the establishment press, to maintain the culture of fear of retaliation, employees will ignore conduct that should be addressed.

Corrupt and incompetent administrators and school board members will continue to escape the consequences of their incompetence and corruption.  APS will continue to flounder.

Brooks' photo Mark Bralley
Walz photo ched macquigg

Friday, December 13, 2013

On "embracing the suck"

Representative Nancy Pelosi is in trouble, link, over her use of the military slang; embrace the suck.  In the context, I found it clever.  I think it is funny.

Not so, in the political press.  It is fair to say that mountains are being made of a mole hill.

People will find its use in that context amusing or they will not.  If they do not, then just with any joke, no amount of explaining is going to make it any funnier.

Had she said;

You have to take the bad with the good.  You can either embrace the suck or whine about it.
no one would have noticed. 

Just sayin'

photo Mark Bralley

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Why is there so little consensus in public education?

It seems odd to me that after millennia of experience educating children and centuries of efforts to publicly educate them, a really good solution is yet to be found.

The practitioners of (public) education are highly educated; all have at least a bachelors degree, many have masters degrees and a not an insignificant number have doctorates.  The vast majority have several years of experience, many have decades of experience.  In any other endeavor those qualifications alone would spell success.

So why does public education perform so poorly?

It is precisely because those with the most education, the most training and the most current and ongoing experience have the least say in how it is done.

Teachers do not meet to identify (global) problems and then create solutions.  Teachers have always been powerless in directing their profession.  They are at the mercy of superintendents, school board members and government bureaucrats, each with their own agenda; each with their own idea about how to fix the mess, and who then tell the real experts how they ought to be practicing their craft.

As but one example, it is superintendents, school board members and bureaucrats who keep chronically disruptive students in classrooms.  It is their belief, not teachers', that keeping "bad" students in the same classroom with good students makes them all better students.

It is time to empower teachers in educational decision making.

It is time to gather them, listen to what they say about why public education isn't working and more importantly, listen to their ideas about how best to fix things.

That hasn't happened, and likely will not happen because the people who hold the power to make those decisions have no interest in sharing it, even with teachers.  Especially with teachers.

And there we are.

photo Mark Bralley

Friday, December 06, 2013

"Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet has free access to the sum of all human knowledge."

The non-profit Wikipedia's plea for financial support, link; quoted in significant part.

I can't help but imagine;

A school system in which every single student has free access to the sum of all human knowledge, and the opportunity to learn how to use it safely, effectively, and efficiently; rather immediately and for the rest of their lives.

If the creation of independent lifelong learners is the ultimate goal of public education, why is it not the immediate objective?

Why are we not creating independent lifelong learners at the earliest opportunity?

Except that independent lifelong learners do not by definition, require huge bureaucracies to oversee and enable their education, while  grouped and "standardized" learners do?

photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Korte rebellion wrong headed; sets poor example for students

APS School Board Vice President Kathy Korte is leading a rebellion against unnecessary testing.  I object to open rebellion as an acceptable solution to any problem for which there are better, less confrontational solutions. Her rebellion is after all just a power play, albeit a power play in response to a power play (by the Public Education Department).

John Kennedy argued;

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable."
The Korte rebellion while not "violent", is not peaceful.  It is confrontational and counterproductive.

Begging a question;
Has a peaceful revolution in the evaluation of students and educators, been made impossible?  By whom?  When? Where?
Is it really too late to have a meeting* to identify and resolve the issues of evaluation of teachers and learners?  Is it really too late for civil discourse on the evaluation of teaching and learning?

*The meeting would not be of education secretaries, superintendents and union presidents.  It would be a meeting of "experts" selected solely on the likelihood that they can contribute positively to an open and honest public discussion of the issues and their best solutions.

The meeting would need to be facilitated professionally; effectively, efficiently and impartially.

photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

APS forming "Social Media Task Force". You cannot be serious!

The leadership of the APS has decided to rewrite the district-level social media policy and guidelines.  The current policy, link,

Employees need to be mindful of their internet website postings even if done off duty and off District property. Do not engage in social networking during the duty day. Do not disclose personal or contact information, or post photographs of employees without their permission. Never post a photograph and/or information about an APS student. Employees who violate this Policy may be subject to the APS Progressive Discipline Process. 
was apparently inadequate to keep Supt Winston Brooks out of trouble.  It is unclear how a better policy in the staff handbook would have helped Brooks anyway, as he has admitted in his sworn deposition 187:11.
"I've not read the staff handbook".
Think please of the implications of Brooks' admission, both in terms of his enforcement of the handbook and his own obedience to it.

Despite the fact that taxpayers a ponying up a half million dollars a year for a communications department, those who work in it are apparently, unable to rewrite the rules by themselves.  They have decided to form a Social Media Task Force, link, to help them along.

Assume for the sake of argument, that a "better" policy would help (there is not a whit of difference between the highest standards of conduct and the lowest, if neither is enforced), why do we need a task force to write it?  Task forces don't happen for free.  At the very least, APS newly hired (>$50K/yr) "social media expert" will be there and she's making $25/hr.

If Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta shows up, it's going to cost taxpayers more than $50/hr; plus all their ancillary staff, snacks and who knows what else.  They're planning to meet twice a month for who knows how many months.

Why does a communications expert worth more than $100K a year, and her $50K a year social media expert, need help of writing a simple social media policy? Hell, they could probably download a perfectly adequate one from the internet for free.

Again, it's not the lack of standards, it's not the quality of the standards that is the problem.  The problem is that these folks are not really, honesty accountable to any standards of conduct.

If this sounds at all fascinating to you, you can nominate yourself to serve on the task force, link.  Be prepared to write up to two hundred words on why you're the best representative of parents, students, counselors, teachers, or principals, in this monumental undertaking.

What makes this particularly irksome is that there are existing standards which are more than adequate for the need.  Student standards of conduct, and therefore adult standards of conduct, require "treating people with respect".  Students are expected to treat others as they themselves would be treated.

If Brooks doesn't get that, if he does not know that already, (he clearly does not), no new policy is going to help him understand it.

This is a colossal waste of time and resources; time and resources that would be better spent on students in order that they not grow into adults who are oblivious even of, the golden rule.

photo Mark  Bralley

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Journal gets one right but, talk is cheap.

More accurately, Journal staff writer Winthrop Quigley gets one right, link; Civil discourse needed in education debate.

A number of people get that civil discourse is necessary in the education debate.  They get as well, that civil discourse is needed in every public policy debate.

There is not now, civil discourse in policy debates.  That can only be because the people with the power to control the discourse, would rather prevail in that discourse than have it enlighten the people.

So how do the people get the civil discourse they need?

In the education debate, the newspaper that reported the need could address it.  I would bet that if the Journal decided to hold open and honest civil discourse in the debate on education, they could.

The Journal has the wherewithal to host that discussion.

The only real obstacle is keeping the discourse civil, and I would add, productive.  That's the hard part, not finding the space, not gathering the participants; the hard part is keeping the discussion on track so people's time is not wasted with endless anecdotal illustrations of already agreed upon facts.

Just because someone has been appointed, hired or elected; cabinet secretary, superintendent or union president, doesn't mean they know how to chair a fair and efficient meeting.

I would hope that the Journal, when they host the discussion, will provide facilitation; impartial, professional and effective facilitators who will keep the discussion both civil and productive.

With that, the gauntlet has been thrown down.

The Journal can now put up or shut up.

It's easier to say, somebody should do something,  when what you're really talking about is  "somebody(else) should do something"

photo Mark Bralley

cc Letters to the Editors upon posting

Monday, November 25, 2013

APS; shameless spending

The leadership of the APS burns through well over a billion tax dollars a year.

They spend in two areas; capital and operational.  Simply put, capital funds buy buildings and operational dollars buy actual education; teachers and their ancillary support.

One of the things the leadership of the APS chooses to spend huge numbers of operational dollars on, is litigation. 

They spend millions of dollars every year on litigation.  Not just on litigation, but on cost is no object litigation.  APS' insurance premiums were raised a few years ago, expressly because they spend so much money on litigation, far more than comparable school districts. 

They spend on litigation to escape the consequences of their corruption and incompetence; litigation against the public interests and against the best interests of students.

As an example of money spent against students interests; APS has hired some lawyers willing to charge me with a "... fanatical dedication to Character Counts ..." 

The same dollars could be spent actually developing character in students, had they not been already been spent trying to convince a judge that trying to hold the leadership of the APS accountable as role models of the standards of conduct the establish and enforce upon students is "fanatical".

My "fanatical dedication" to Character Counts! includes pointing out that

1.  APS students are expected, link, to model and promote the Pillars of Character Counts! link; a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct.
The School Board has it's own Code of Conduct.  You cannot find it by searching, link, their awarding winning website.  It can be found if you know where to look, link.

By their own admission, they cannot be held actually, honestly accountable to it.  There is no venue where a complaint can be filed, that a board member has failed to obey their code of ethics.
2.  Leaders are role models, whether or not they like it; whether or not they agree that they are.
They can have any number of codes of conduct they want. 
That doesn't change that they are de facto role models and therefore accountable to, whatever standards they establish and enforce upon students.  (That is the "fanatical" part)
3.  The only way to model standards of conduct, is to hold oneself honestly accountable to them.
The leadership of the APS steadfastly refuses to hold themselves actually and honestly accountable as role models of the standards of conduct the establish and enforce upon students.

They are spending operational dollars in a effort to avoid being held accountable as role models of student standards of conduct.

Character education and character development in the Albuquerque Public Schools is newsworthy.  It is at least as newsworthy as stories the Journal has published instead.  Seriously, which would sell more papers, an expose on the abandonment of character education and development in the APS, or a story entitled; Americans are likely to seek especially good deals?

The ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership, the shameless spending on litigation to escape the consequences of their incompetence and corruption, the cover up of felony criminal misconduct in the leadership of the APS (police force), are all newsworthy.

Journal Managing Editor Kent Walz won't investigate and report on any of it because he is up to his eyeballs in covering it up.

If Walz could write that there is no ethics and accountability scandal, why wouldn't he?

If Walz could write that people were held accountable for their criminal misconduct, why wouldn't he?

If Walz could write that APS isn't wasting money on self serving litigation, isn't having lawyers working without contracts, isn't hiding case analyses from the school board whose job is oversight over such spending, why wouldn't he?

photo Mark Bralley

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Smaller parachute not "a vote of no confidence" according to Esquivel

APS Supt Winston Brooks' golden parachute is a little less golden after the APS School Board decided to not give him his usual; a three year extension worth $750K.

If last year, APS School Board President Marty Esquivel had been asked why he and the board voted to give Brooks a three year extension on his contract, he would have lead you to believe it was because the school board has confidence in him.

And now, Esquivel would have interest holders believe that the school board's confidence in their superintendent is undiminished, despite everything that Brooks has done lately and over the years to diminish it.

What is a golden parachute after all, except a vote of confidence?

And what is a smaller golden parachute after all,
except a vote of lesser confidence?

Why did Marty Esquivel deny an allegation that hadn't yet been made? Why did he then try to make it all about better relations with the NM PED, as opposed to Brooks' record of misconduct?

Because Winston Brooks' evaluation took place in meetings in secret, interest holders have no idea what actually happened or what exactly, was considered in his evaluation.

For example; were the lawsuits in which Brooks is and was a named respondent considered?

The Board is supposed to have reviewed the facts in those lawsuits in order to protect their constituents' interests.  It is likely that they were not reviewed as part of the evaluation.  It is likely in fact, that the board has never reviewed the case analyses of any those cases, this though they have that oversight obligation on behalf of their constituents over administrative spending on litigation.

They didn't allow public input during the evaluation.
Was any input from anybody considered, or was the
discussion only about what to do to save face?

Was student discipline under the Brooks superintendency evaluated?  What data did they consider?

Were teacher and employee morale considered? What data did they review?

There are good and ethical reasons for politicians and public servants to discuss and act on some issues in executive session; meetings in secret from interest holders.  The law allows politicians to redact records and discuss issues in private in order to accommodate legitimate public interests.

The APS School Board has gone way beyond ethical redaction of this very important process.  They have hidden more truth than the law requires.  They have told far less truth the law will allow.

They are hiding the record of Winston Brooks' public service from the people whose power and resources are entrusted to him and his public service.

  • They didn't fire Brooks because it would mean they had picked the wrong guy in the first place and, then over-compensated him afterward.
  • They didn't let Brooks go because it would cost $100K and a year to find his replacement.  And because they would have to buy out whatever is left in his current contract extensions.
Maybe Brooks told them the same thing Gil Lovato's lawyer told APS when they wanted to fire him; go ahead, try to fire me.  When I get my day in court, there won't be a single APS senior administrator left standing.  It worked for Lovato, who's to say it didn't work for Brooks just as well?

The people have no idea how their power and resources were spend in these meetings in secret.  No records have been produced, no record was made, no data has been shared.  Why hide everything?  What hide any thing if there is nothing to hide?

Esquivel would have you believe the Superintendent still has their full confidence and by logical extension is worthy of their full confidence - and ours.

Esquivel can hide the public records of Brooks' evaluation because he has full confidence in the Journal; that they never ask him to produce the records that were considered as part of Winston Brooks evaluation.

Journal Editor Kent Walz
Where does one go to
vote no confidence in
the Journal and Kent Walz?

Esquivel photo Mark Bralley
Walz; ched macquigg

Journal turns in editorial after the bell

I will leave it to others to determine what is the actual editorial policy of the Albuquerque Journal is or should be.

Allan Weintraut's model, link:

An editorial is an article that presents the newspaper's opinion on an issue. It reflects the majority vote of the editorial board, the governing body of the newspaper made up of editors and business managers. It is usually unsigned. Much in the same manner of a lawyer, editorial writers build on an argument and try to persuade readers to think the same way they do. Editorials are meant to influence public opinion, promote critical thinking, and sometimes cause people to take action on an issue. In essence, an editorial is an opinionated news story.
I call your attention to;
Editorials are meant to influence public opinion,
promote critical thinking, and sometimes
cause people to take action on an issue.
If the Journal editors see it differently, they should say so, prominently.

They wrote an editorial, link, and then published at least one day too late to influence public opinion, promote critical thinking, and maybe, just maybe, cause people to take action.

Why?  Why did they step up a day too late for the editorial to have any real impact?

In publishing the editorial a day late, they have covered their collective ass.  They didn't do any real damage to Brooks' prospects and they didn't call attention to the issue in time for anyone to react to it.  The leadership of the APS will not feel the brunt of the negative impact the editorial will create; it will happen too late.

Yet, if someone criticizes them over their failure to step up and tell the truth about the APS, they can, in their defense, point to the editorial as evidence that they did actually pick a side on the issue.  The conversation won't last long enough for anyone to point out how utterly feckless the editorial was, in light of its timing.

People, had they known that even the Journal editors are loosing faith in Winston Brooks ability to lead the APS, might have shown up at the school board meeting last night, and used the public forum to speak freely and petition their government on the issue of Winston Brooks' superintendency.

They might have, had they known the truth about APS and Winston Brooks.

The Journal has made a deliberate decision to not investigate and report upon credible evidence of an ethics and accountability scandal in Brooks' administration.

The Journal has made a deliberate decision to not investigate and report upon the abdication of every single one of the senior-most role models of student standards of conduct.

The Journal has made a deliberate decision to not investigate and report upon the findings of numerous investigations of public corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS.

The Journal knows that Brooks (in a "buck stops here" kind of a way) is hiding the findings of investigations into felony criminal misconduct in the leadership of their publicly funded private police force.  The Journal knows about the cover up of the cover up.

The Journal is complicit in the cover up of the cover up.

In the Journal's defense,
they did once write this editorial criticizing his behavior.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The two faces of Marty Esquivel

As a media lawyer, Marty Esquivel argues that a district court judge had no business closing a preliminary hearing to the public.  His argument; the public interests are not served by unnecessary secrecy.  He expressed additional outrage that the closure was made without any explanation or defense; it was just simply done.

The Journal reports, link, "... Esquivel complained that they were at a “tremendous disadvantage” because no one could even tell them what the basis for the sealing was because it (the justification) also was sealed.

As the APS School Board President, Esquivel has sealed the APS superintendent's evaluation process, without offering any public explanation or justification for sealing the entire process.

Media lawyer Esquivel argued; “I would add that we’re at a tremendous disadvantage by not having access to the documents,” he said. “I have not seen a situation like this before.”

As School Board President, Esquivel is orchestrating exactly the situation he claims never to have seen.   He has sealed the entire process and he has sealed (by omission) the justification for having so done.

His evaluation process has not released a single document used in the evaluation; not the records the law would allow them to produce and, not the records the law would insist they produce (if anyone was willing to sue them to see them).

They haven't produced a single thing except for their meaningless assurance that we can trust them when they meet in secret.

The public interests are at a tremendous disadvantage by not having access to the documents used in Brooks' evaluation, if you buy media lawyer Esquivel's own argument.

"... it became clear during the hearing that the reason for the sealing order – which also kept all the records in the case hidden from public view – was to ..." conceal the truth.

It is clear the reason Esquivel and the board want to seal the evaluation process and the justification for sealing the entire process, is to conceal the truth; conceal the truth beyond the requirements of the law.  If the truth makes you look competence, if the truth makes you look like you have character and moral courage, why would you hide it?

Because Esquivel is the media's lawyer, the media (the Journal) will not get worked up over Esquivel's decision to seal his process; not like they did when a district court judge, apparently not a crony of theirs, tried to seal the public out of decision making that affects their interests.

Esquivel the media lawyer argued, link, "... his client believes closing the courtroom should be a last resort."

Closing the Board's evaluation process was not their last resort.
It was Esquivel and the board's first instinct.
It was their knee jerk response.
It's the way they roll;
close the doors, hide the records.

You can't be hurt by the truth
if you can hide it.

illustration Mark Bralley

APS School Board will take action on Brooks tomorrow morning.

The meeting, link, will begin at 7:30.  The public meeting will immediately vote to adjourn to Executive Session, a meeting in secret from interest holders.  A meeting, of which, no recording will be made.

Some of what they discuss is legitimately kept secret from public knowledge.  By "legitimately" I mean, not only does the law allow it, but the secrecy is ethically justifiable.

All of the rest of what they consider will in fact, be kept secret.

This though all of the rest of what they consider belongs to those whose interests are being decided. 

All of the rest will be kept secret not because the law and higher standards of conduct require it to be hidden, but because the law allows the APS Board of Education to hide the truth. 

The leadership of the APS does not want to be held accountable to the truth and law accommodates their self interests.

  • Did Winston Brooks have to explain why the findings of investigations of public corruption and incompetence are being hidden from public knowledge and criminal prosecution?
  • Did he have to explain his abandonment of his responsibilities as the senior-most administrative role model of student standards of conduct?
  • Did he have to explain the "culture of fear of retaliation" against whistleblowers and other complainants?  Did he have to explain why there is still no due process for complaints made against administrators or board members?
  • Did he have to justify his reticence to allowing an independent audit of administrative standards and accountability?
  • Did the subject of the several lawsuits against him discussed?
What documents and records did the board consider?

Who had input?  Did teachers have any input?  did staff?  did community members?

This is an abuse of power.

School Board President Marty Esquivel and the board owe stakeholders a candid, forthright and honest truth telling about the superintendent's evaluation.

Why they won't produce every record the law will allow them to produce, except to avoid the consequences that will befall them when they do.

They wouldn't be hiding anything if there is nothing to hide.

The Journal and the establishment media will continue their aid and abet.

Interest holders have an opportunity at the school board meeting public forum this afternoon, to stand up and demand a candid, forthright and honest truth telling, a truth telling limited only by the spirit of open government laws, about the superintendent's evaluation.

You have to sign up before 5pm if you would like to speak during the public forum.  Sign up ends at 5, for no good reason except to make it more difficult for working interest holders to be heard.

photo Mark Bralley

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Board seeking public input on Brooks' eval - yeah, right.

The Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education will make a decision Thursday.  They will decide whether to re-inflate Winston Brooks golden parachute to a full $750K.  They will have finished their completely in secret evaluation of the superintendent.

There is a manifest conflict of interests;

  • their obligation to conduct an impartial evaluation of the superintendent and
  • their own personal public relations needs.
The very worst thing you can do in the face of an appearance of a conflict of interests, is to move the resolution of those conflicts into meetings in secret from interest holders.

Interest holders in APS Supt Winston Brooks' evaluation, haven't one shred of truth to examine.  They are supposed to hold board members accountable at election for their selection and evaluations of superintendents, and they haven't a shred of truth on which to base their vote.

Stakeholders have a need to know how their power has been used and how their resources have been spent in and by, the administration of the APS.

More importantly, they have a right to know.

Late Wednesday afternoon, a regular school board meeting will begin.  It will include a public forum.  In order to sign up, you have to get there before 5pm, even though the forum itself begins much later.  Immediately, people are disenfranchised by needless regulation benefiting only those with an interest in limiting the opportunity for people to avail themselves of a public forum.

There are two schools of thought on the truth in government.
1. The prevailing thought among politicians and public servants is that the truth about their public service belongs to them, and the people need to prove their right to know it.

2. The truth about public service belongs to the people; those whose power and resources are being spent, and the government needs to prove its need to secret any of it.
When the board adjourns from an open meeting into a meeting in secret, they make a public statement about what it is they intend to decide in secret.  When the meeting reconvenes, another public statement is made about what it was, that they decided in secret.

There is a phrase which applies to these statements, they must be "reasonably specific".  There are two schools of thought on "reasonably specific" truth telling;
1.  tell as little truth as is required by the law, or

2.  tell as much truth as the law will allow.
In the face of no truth telling at all, it would appear that APS School Board President Marty Esquivel and the APS School Board have decided to tell as little of the truth as the law absolutely, positively requires.

Is Esquivel telling as much
of the truth as he can or,
is he hiding as much truth
as he can?

Have Esquivel and the Board been candid, forthright and honest with stakeholders?

It is pretty clear that they have not.

It is as clear that Esquivel and board will feel no pressure from the Journal or the rest of the establishment media, to be more truthful.  Esquivel, by the way, is apparently still KRQE's lawyer.  Now there's a conflict of interests for you;
  • KRQE's obligation to expose Esquivel and
  • the fact that Esquivel is giving them legal advice.

The first step in regaining control over the administration of our power and resources is to demand truth telling; candid, forthright, honest.  Truth telling unlimited except by the law.

It is hard to beat Edmund Burke for hitting a nail on its head.  All that is necessary for Marty Esquivel and the board to pull this off, is for good people to do nothing.

If you don't think the School Board is being candid, forthright and honest about their evaluation of Winston Brooks, the School Board would like to hear from you.  You have an opportunity to stand up during the public forum and insist upon more truth telling; truth telling limited only by the law.

The essential element in government of, by and for the people is the people.  There are times when there is no other solution to a problem than for the people to stand up.  They have to leave their spheres of comfort and safety; they have step up and take back control over power and resources  belonging fundamentally to them.

photo  Mark Bralley

Sunday, November 17, 2013

“Now it’s time for me to be a role model to you.” Winston Brooks

Fresh off his three day suspension and the morning after whatever it was that happened Wednesday night, APS Supt Winston Brooks met with his SuperSAC; the Superintendent's Student Advisory Council.  He sought their advice on his recovery as their superintendent.

At some point in the discussion Winston Brooks said;

“Now it’s time for me to be a role model to you.”
He should have been more specific.

Some people, when they use the phrase "role model" understand it to mean positive role model.  Brooks, I suppose means positive role model.

There is a such thing as negative role modeling and, it behooves one to differentiate.

A few days before, the senior-most administrative role model in the entire APS, role modeled disrespect.  He showed students what it looks like to be disrespectful.

APS student standards of conduct address respect.  Respect, in fact, is one of the Six Pillars of Character that students are expected to model and promote.  One behaves disrespectfully, students are taught, at the forfeit of their good character.

Winston Brooks will take "advice" from the school board because he has no choice.

He will take "advice" from students because they have no power.

He will not take "advice" from teachers, staff or community members.

He will not take a question from anyone who might ask;
It is time for you, Winston Brooks, to be students' role model of exactly what?  What standards of conduct will you role model "accountability to"?
Like them or no, there are actual APS "student standards of conduct", though you will not find any labeled as such..  I have argued since the School Board adopted Character Counts! in 1994, student standards of conduct are the Pillars of Character Counts!.

If they are not, then what are?  Search their award winning for APS Student Standards of Conduct, link.  I submit you will find nothing that indicates that APS Student Standards of Conduct are anything other than, the Pillars of Character Counts!.

The Pillars represent a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct.  Students are expected to model accountability to higher standards of conduct than the law.

Is Winston Brooks claiming he intends to step up as a role model for students, of the Pillars of Character Counts!?

An inconspicuous role model is a walking oxymoron.

Unless Winston Brooks is willing to stand up in front of students and say,
I am willing to hold myself honestly accountable to the same standards of conduct we establish and enforce upon you.  Because we expect you to embrace character and courage and honor, I will show you what they look like; I will hold myself honestly accountable as a role model of the Pillars of Character Counts!.
he is a role model only of, hypocrisy.

Winston Brooks and rest of the leadership of the APS, have no intention to be held honestly accountable to any higher standards of conduct that the law.  They have no intention to be held honestly accountable as role models.

In truth, they are spending operational dollars hand over fist, in litigation to except them from accountability even to the law.

School Board President Marty Esquivel is the senior-most executive role model of student standards of conduct.  Though he once told me, he isn't a role model for students, because he "isn't an educator".

Esquivel had no problem holding Winston Brooks accountable as a role model, though Brooks is no more of an "educator" than Esquivel is.

Esquivel will not conspicuously role model his accountability to the same standards they establish and enforce upon students.

There is an enormous hypocrisy here.  There are two standards of conduct in the APS, the law for the senior administrators and school board members, and higher standards for students.  Is in an ethics and accountability scandal by any reasonable definition.

There are two ways to resolve the hypocrisy;
  1. raise adult standards to the same standards as students, or
  2. lower student standards to the lowest possible standards; the law; the standards that every higher standard is higher than.
The leadership of the APS is threatened by either choice.  They would be humiliated by lowering student standards (unless they and their media friends can find a way to do it in secret) and honest accountability to any standards of conduct that require truth telling would cost many of them their futures as politicians and highly paid public servants.

They truly are; twixt a rock and a hard place.

The Journal, KRQE, KOAT, and KOB TV will continue to hide the hypocrisy because they too, find themselves twixt a rock and a hard place;
  1. How can they report credibly on the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS,
  2. without first reporting credibly on their relentless refusal to investigate and report upon the scandal heretofore?
The board removed the role modeling clause from their own standards of conduct, more than six years ago.
In no case shall the standards of conduct for adults
be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
According to APS' award winning website, link, one student offered this on Brooks' recovery as their senior-most administrative role model of student standards of conduct;
“We think you’re a good person and that’s all that matters.”
And now its time to move along, in the interests of the children.

photos Mark Bralley

Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Executive session", "behind closed doors", or "meeting in secret"?

There are public records and kinds of discussions that school board members should have in secret.  Those records and those discussions enjoy exception under the law; they are an exception to your right to know how your power and resources are being spent.  Everything else is public knowledge.

There is the spirit of a law, and then there is the letter of the law.  The letter of the law is under constant revision as government lawyers find new and different ways for their clients (politicians and public servants) to hide records and close meetings.

The only protection of the people's interests is the trustworthiness of politicians and public servants.  You have to believe they won't ignore the law when they meet in secret.

When it comes to protecting the public interests in, in secret meetings, "trusting" politicians and public servants runs a far distant second to actual recordings of those meetings.

The first step in holding politicians and public servants accountable for what they do in secret, is to insist that they record the meetings.  The law does not prevent the recording of meetings in secret, the allows the not recording of meetings in secret.

Which begs a question; who should decide whether the APS School Board will record their meetings in secret,

  •  the  School Board, or 
  • the community members they serve?

The terms of public in-servitude are the prerogative of the people, not of their servants.

There really is only one reason to hide the ethically redacted truth, and that is to escape the consequences of telling the truth.

When asked to describe a hypothetical conversation that is both; in the public best interests and, of which the public best interests are best served by ignorance, and most importantly, is not already provided for in the law, they are hard pressed for an illustrative example.

Bodies that will not allow records to be created,  those who do not insist that records be created as a matter of course, are not willing to be candid, forthright and honest about their public service in meetings in secret.  They are unwilling to tell the truth about their public service.

There is disappointingly little outrage in the press over what goes on in meetings in secret from any public interest oversight.

a mild or pleasant word or phrase that is used 
instead of one that is unpleasant or offensive.
Euphemisms for meetings in secret from stakeholders;
  • the school board likes to call them executive sessions 
  • the establishment media likes to call them meetings behind closed doors.
Any way you look at it, they are meeting in secret.

The worst thing that any politician or public servant can do
is anything they do in unnecessary secret
from the people they serve.

photo Mark Bralley

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Winston Brooks' golden probation

APS Supt Winston Brooks will return to work today in probationary status.  At least that is the impression the School Board would like to promote.

"If you EVER, EVER do anything like this again,
Brooks cannot be fired for misconduct unless that misconduct is prohibited by law.  The Board could send Brooks packing for something less than criminal misconduct, but it would cost taxpayers whatever he has left in a parachute worth $750K as recently as last January.

Winston Brooks has a golden parachute; the consequence of them dismissing him is that he gets the parachute.  He cannot be sitting on a parachute and be on "probation" at the same time.  Parachutes and probation are diametrically opposite concepts.

He cannot be fired for what he did.
He cannot be fired if he does the same thing again.
He cannot be fired for doing it again after that.
Unless he does something that is against the law; the lowest standards of conduct shared by civilized human beings; the standards of conduct that every single higher standard of conduct, is higher than, he cannot be fired.

Brooks is accountable only to the law.  He is not accountable to any standards of conduct higher than the law.  On top of that, he has an unlimited budget to finds ways litigate around the law if the law doesn't suit him.  He spends without oversight, except by subordinates.  Subordinate oversight is oxymoronic.

Because this kind of misconduct doesn't break the law, if the board tries to fire him, he will sue for his parachute.  The Board will give him a lot of money to avoid "having to spend even more money defending themselves" in court.

The board will do what the board always does with senior administrators running wild, buy them off and then send them packing.  Look at their record, one senior administrator after another leaving the district with boot-full of cash.

The Journal would probably report on it, probably add their
editorial harrumph, and then they and APS will "move along",
"in the interests of the children".

photo Mark Bralley 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

APS seeks public input on its award winning website

APS is seeking input on its website. You have found yourself two clicks away from participating in an online survey, link.  The survey is part of APS' half million dollar a year effort to "communicate" with the community members they serve.

A fundamental flaw in APS' award winning website is its fundamental premise.  It is a tool of the administration; a tool to be used to their own advantage in controlling the dissemination of the record of their own public service.  It is manifest conflict of interests.

The obligation to be candid, forthright and honest with the people whose power it is and whose resources they are
conflicts with
human nature and the willingness to deceive others rather than accept the consequences of one's own incompetence and or corruption.
This is precisely the conflict we illustrate when we tell children a fable about a shiny new hatchet and a cherry tree. People of character are candid, forthright and honest in their truth telling, or they are not people of character at all.

We have to make up stories to tell children because living role models are too hard to find.  We can't point to any, so we have to tell stories instead.

Not one politician or public servant in the entire "leadership" of the APS can point to honest accountability to the same standards of conduct they establish and enforce upon students.  Not one.

  Not the senior-most executive role model School Board President Marty Esquivel and

not the senior-most administrative role model Supt Winston Brooks.

Go ahead, look it up on APS' award winning website; try to find the place where complaints can be filed against administrators and school board members.

Try to find the venue where whistleblowers are protected from APS "culture of fear of retaliation" against whistleblowers and other complainants.

Try to find due process free of conflicts of interests and appearance of improprieties.

It cannot be found because there no venue providing due process for complaints made against APS senior administrators or school board members.

Try to find the findings of the investigations into administrative incompetence and corruption.  Those findings are supposed to be posted on APS' award winning website, but they aren't.  We're talking about every single finding of every single investigation.  They all remain resolutely hidden.

Try to find an APS senior administrator or board member, or someone acting in their stead, who is willing to conduct an open and honest public discussion, a two-way conversation where any legitimate question will see a candid, forthright and honest response.

Ask the Journal why they will not investigate and report upon credible evidence of  an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.  Ask them why they won't expose the cover up of the cover up of felony criminal misconduct in the leadership of the APS (police).

The problem with APS' website and with the Journal's dissemination of the truth is that they both serve the interests of the privileged class; powerful people who need to manipulate the truth in order to remain in power; our power. Not their power, our power; our resources.

The problem is that APS' award winning website and the Journal (and the local broadcast media) do not exist to tell the truth.

They exist to manipulate the truth in the interests of powerful people, any time they need to have it done.

When the question is;
  • will you tell the truth?
the whole truth, and nothing but the ethically redacted truth, any answer except yes means no.

Someone ask Marty Esquivel,

someone ask Winston Brooks,

someone ask Kent Walz,

Will you tell the truth about APS' student standards of conduct, APS' adult standards of conduct, accountability to those standards, and the obligations of the senior-most role models of standards established and enforced upon students?

Will you tell the truth about student discipline and chronically disruptive students; the depth, the breadth, the history, and the plan? Or will you not?

Any answer,  
any answer at all except yes
means no.

photos Mark Bralley 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Winston Brooks "... mild-mannered and unassuming"?

Ok then, here we have it in a nut shell; two schools of thought;
APS Supt Winston Brooks is a misogynist and bully who has been caught red handed too many times or,

Anyone who knows Brooks knows he is not some irate bully, he's rather mild-mannered and unassuming. 
This according to "a political analyst" Joe Monahan listens to, link.

It's fair to wonder how a mild-mannered and unassuming man how found himself in charge of a more than billion dollar a year industry like the APS.

It makes a difference which the man is.

It makes a difference if he is a bully with a record of bad tweets.  We pay the man more than a quarter of a million dollars a year.

A mild-manner and unassuming man has business being the superintendent of the APS.  A misogynist and bully does not.

The real question is will the truth ever be investigated and reported upon by the Journal. If not, why not?

If the Journal could write that Brooks is a mild-mannered and unassuming man who has done something entirely out of character, why won't they?

If the Journal could write that there really isn't an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, why won't they?

If the Journal can point to honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct that applies to the leadership of the APS, why don't they?

photo Mark Bralley 

Brooks' "in secret" evaluation to continue Friday morning

The APS School Board will meet in secret again Friday morning, link, for the purpose of discussion and action regarding the Superintendent’s Evaluation.

They will meet in secret in the face of a self evident conflict of interests.

It is in board members and golden parachute signer's on personal best interests, to make their support of the superintendent appear justifiable.

The worse the superintendent looks, the worse looks their judgement in just having given him such an unjustifiably generous parachute. 

We cannot simply ignore conflicts of interest in meetings in secret.

To do so implies absolute and unequivocal trust in school board members.

In these circumstances, that level of trust is utterly unjustifiable.  They refuse to create a record of any of their meetings in secret, and not because the law requires them to create no record, but because the law allows them to create no record.

Will they consider how teachers and other employees feel about working under Brooks and in a "culture of fear of retaliation" against whistleblowers and other complainants?

Will they ask him why the investigation of felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators is being hidden from public knowledge.

Will they examine Brooks' record as the senior-most administrative role model of student standards of conduct. Will they examine their own records as the very senior-most role models of student standards of conduct, in the entire APS?

Will they consider how community members feel about their superintendent, except to support the spending of a half million dollars a year on the effort to convince everybody that he's doing just fine?

In spite of the self evident and still unaddressed conflict of interests, they will meet again in secret.

  • They will not permit stakeholders to ask questions.
  • They will not allow legitimate complaints to be leveled at any member of the leadership of the APS.
  • They will not allow names to be named, unless you have something good to say.
  • They will not follow their meeting with an open and honest public "reasonably specific"discussion of what they did in secret.
It is in meetings such as these where the board decided to give Brooks a golden parachute worth as many as 750,000 dollars.

There is only one reason to hide the truth, and that is to
avoid the consequences that telling the truth brings.

If we really want students to grow into adults
who embrace character and courage and honor,
someone has to show them what they look like.

photo Mark Bralley

Brooks' many, well, two, successes

In defending their decision to address APS Supt Winston Brooks repeated faux pas by suspending him for three days, School Board President Marty Esquivel pointed to two feathers in Brooks' cap; he has lead two successful bond issue campaigns and has raised APS' graduation rate to near 70%.

I would like to shed a little light on "Brooks'" success in raising graduation rates.  During Brooks' tenure, the method for calculating graduation rates has changed at least twice.  Both times, the new method raised graduation rates completely independently of any actual success in preparing students to graduate.

One might think that calculating a graduation rate is easy; divide the number of students who actually graduate after four years in high school, by the total number of students.  In reality, a number of mathematical machinations are employed to affect the total number.

For example, it was decided that students would have five years to graduate not four.  Regardless of how one feels about that change, it has the effect of raising graduation rates without having to do a better job educating students.  Brooks also benefited from a change which dropped students who failed the 9th grade once from the calculation entirely, link.  The students least likely to graduate are simply not counted anymore.  Again, the graduation rate sans early failures, was raised without actually improving anything.

Graduation rates may have risen during his tenure, but Brooks cannot reasonably take credit for them, unless he takes credit for the mathematical sleight of hand that enabled them.  And Marty Esquivel et al cannot reasonably give him credit for them.  They are being disingenuous at best - deliberately misleading at worst.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Brooks defends $250K salary and contract extensions.

"I don't think my salary is out of line," Brooks said.

He said it early this year, link.

The board had just padded APS Supt Winston Brooks' golden parachute to a full $750K, by extending his contract until 2016 - long after some of the board members who voted in favor, could conceivably have been voted out of office.

A lot of folks on the radio and on the backsides of internet, think Brooks should be fired.  They are supposing that he, in failing to role model student standards of conduct, has some how violated his contract.  He has not.

There is nothing in Winston Brooks contract that holds him accountable to the same higher standards of conduct he establishes and enforces upon students; a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct.

He is accountable in his contract, only to the law; the standard of conduct that every higher standard is higher than.

It is not against state law to do what he has done.  It is not against the law to abandon your responsibilities and obligations as the senior-most administrative role model of student standards of conduct.  Even if ones abdicates deliberately.  And especially if one, has the Journal's tacit blessing.

He's safe.  Snug as a bug in a rug, my parents would have said.

photo Mark Bralley

To hear Esquivel tell it, it's already "time to move along".

With respect to APS Supt Winston Brooks suspension, everything that needs to be done has been done and, it's time to move along.

That according to School Board President Marty Esquivel.  More importantly, it's time to move along in the interests of the children.

It is good ol' boy justice.  And good ol' boy justice is not done in anyone's interests but their own.

How is it in the best interests of children to provide them with role models who are unwilling to hold themselves honesty accountable the same standards they establish and enforce upon students?

The entire school board, having just voted to give Brooks another $750K golden parachute, is manifestly conflicted in deciding whether and how to punish their champion.  The harder the punishment, the more obvious it is that they shouldn't be extending his golden parachute every year.  Their own self interests dictate mitigating their consequences in Brooks' interests as well.

They conducted the whole disciplinary process by themselves and in secret.  There will be no review of their decision making.  (Even) the public records that they considered in the process, will not be identified or inspected.  They will produce no record to review.

They will call it command decision making and if the decision makers are powerful enough, it is not subject to question or review,by anyone ever.  Not even by those to whom the power and resources fundamentally belong.

Ask them; their decision making is not subject to the review of the people they represent; the people whose power and resources they are spending.

"Hold us accountable at election", Board Member Kathy Korte will say.  "If you don't like what we're doing, don't vote us into office."

The glaring omission in the argument of course, is that the people have no idea whether they like or don't like what these folks do in secret.  In fact, they have a record of betraying our trust in allowing them meet in secret from us.

How do you hold someone accountable for anything they do in secret?

For example, in secret, they supposedly oversee litigation involving district administrators and school board members.  They spend a lot of money defending the good ol' boys and girls and, they spend it in secret.

The onerous litigation is part and parcel of APS' "culture of fear of retaliation" against whistleblowers and other complainants.  They pay their buddies at the Modrall law firm alone, well over a million dollars a year to extricate them from consequences of their lack character and competence.

They pay them so much that their lawyer. Modrall partner Art Melendres, couldn't say, even when asked under oath, within even a quarter million dollars, how many classroom dollars end every year in the coffers of the Modrall. 

Unlimited classroom dollars being squandered without public oversight.

Why does the establishment media not care how many operational dollars have been taken out of classrooms to be spent in court rooms instead?

Why don't they care how much money these people spend trying to extricate themselves from the consequences of their incompetence and corruption?

Politicians and public servants like Esquivel will get away with closing the door on inspection and review of their decision making for as long as their cronies in the media will allow it.   The media won't publish the truth, but they will publish Esquivel's argument; time to move along, in the interests of the children.

...and not examine too carefully what just happened here.

photos Mark Bralley

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Esquivel outshines Brooks on shameless misconduct.

I have just read some eleventh hour allegations submitted by APS School Board President Marty Esquivel and his lawyers; lawyers who are litigating without school board oversight and may not have even have actually signed contracts.

They have offered up exhibit A.  Exhibit A is the result of a struggle that began at Hoover Middle School more than a dozen years ago.  They aren't saying where Exhibit A came from.  APS Executive Director Monica Armenta said she was being fed information about me by a teacher from  Hoover Middle School.  She refused to identify the "woman" by name.

If I had twenty dollars to bet and a place to make it,  I would bet that the woman is H Wayne Knight, former Hoover Middle School Principal.  More about him later.

The problem at Hoover was that the administration (charged by negotiated agreement, with the enforcement of discipline policies) was permitting students to engage in prohibited behavior.  Specifically, they were allowing students to "sag" in blatant defiance of specific and explicit prohibition in School Board Policy.

In retaliation for the complaints I filed against the Principal H Wayne Knight, the Asst. Principal Michael McNamara, and the APD school resource officer, they made allegations against me in an effort to chill me from filing further complaints and in an effort to discredit me and the complaints I had filed against them.  APS had and still does have, a culture of fear of retaliation against complainants and whistleblowers.

As usual, the leadership of the APS has found all of the allegations and none of the exoneration.

They did not find the transcript of the polygraph examination I gave them.  It was placed in evidence at the same hearing where Exhibit A first turned up.  The polygraph examination transcript was exonerating.

Nor did they find the what the arbitrator, a former New Mexico State Supreme Court Chief Justice William Riordan wrote about H Wayne Knight and Michael McNamara.  His decades of experience  listening to witness testimony lead him to believe that; Knight and McNamara "lacked credibility in the face of contradictory evidence from any other witnessemphasis added

He didn't call them liars, but I will.

The APS Resource Officer's testimony is also conflicted.  It was offered in retaliation for my taking a photograph of him permitting students to engage in prohibited behavior.

Specifically, it was in the Hoover cafeteria before the first bell. Students were actively engaged in the usual eating, chatting, tomfoolery, and copying each other's home work.

Cheating is of course prohibited behavior but the administration chose to enable it rather than confront it.  Students cheated brazenly because H Wayne Knight enabled them to.

In any event, the resource officer was sitting at a cafeteria table, in the midst of all the cheating and who knows what else, reading a newspaper.  I took a photograph of a public servant, in a public place, and within his public service, derelict in his duty.

Exhibit A includes complaints made by the parents of a chronically disruptive student.  Because Esquivel and his lawyers couldn't figure out how to remove it, Exhibit A still includes a letter I wrote about complaints and the complainants.  In it, I offered that we all take polygraphs - liars to pay for them all.  Knight wrote, do what you want, we are not obligated to participate.

Nor was I asked during my lengthy deposition, nor in any other venue to respond to anything alleged in Exhibit A.  The accusations are on the record, my denials are not.

They dropped another brand new tidbit in the pile, an incident report supposedly typed up by APS Police Chief Bill Reed.  It does not bear a Bates number and this is the first time they have produced it despite several requests for its production, and as many denials that any such record ever existed.  It was "found" too late to depose Bill Reed, or to respond to it in writing.

Another late allegation; that I had disciplinary issues before leaving APS.  The accusation comes too late to refute either in deposition or affidavit.  The record shows, the disciplinary issues were complaints filed in retaliation for my several complaints against them; in especially, despite the fact that they were directly responsible for enforcing the rules they, as a matter of course, permitted students to engage in prohibited behavior.

Esquivel and his lawyer would have the judge carefully consider all of the unsubstantiated allegations that were made against me in retaliation for my legitimate complaints over of their incompetence and corruption, without giving me any opportunity at all to rebut their efforts to defame.

Winston Brooks threatened this defamation more than four years ago, link.  After an "incident" in which it is alleged that I "took a fighting stance" with Brooks, and of which, the security camera footage has conveniently been destroyed, Brooks threatened to publicly humiliate me if I continued to point to the lack of due process for complaints filed against him, other administrators and board members.  He said;

We should just follow Marty Esquivel's suggestion,
that the circumstances of your termination be examined
and made public.
I informed him, they already were,  link.

And now, apparently the false allegations and defamation will come out again in an effort to chill me from my resolve. and to illustrate for any other potential whistle blowers what will happen to them if they do.

I asked a teacher once to testify to the truth in my behalf.  She offered that she couldn't afford to lose her job.  Look, she said, at what they have done to you.

Marty Esquivel tells students, their character rides on their willingness to do more than the law requires and less than the law allows.

I would call this poor role modeling by the absolute senior-most role model in the entire leadership of the APS of a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct; the APS student standards of conduct, the Pillars of Character Counts!

Esquivel's cronies at the Journal won't call it anything at all.

photo Mark Bralley

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Where are the Pillars of Character Counts! in this discussion?

I don't know when I have ever heard the words "role model" uttered so many times by so many people.  Most of them disappointed in APS Supt Winston Brooks as a role model for students, teachers and community members.

Among those disappointed with the reprehensible behavior Winston Brooks is modeling,  Governor Susana Martinez and Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera.

Winston Brooks is the senior-most role administrative role model of student standards of conduct: second only to the members of the school board.

Student standards of conduct are actual standards. They are written down clearly and unequivocally, link.  They are called the Pillars of Character Counts!; a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct.

It doesn't make a whit of difference if anyone thinks the Pillars should or should not be APS' student standards of conduct.  They simply are.
  They were adopted by a unanimous school board resolution; a resolution which has never been rescinded or amended and it is as binding today as the night it was passed.

Every year, school board policy is reiterated to students. in the Student Behavior Handbook.  They are told, they are expected to model (honest accountability to) and promote the Pillars of Character Counts!

Every year the leadership of the APS establishes and enforces standards on students, and in so doing, inexorably become role models of accountability to those same standards.  Else is hypocrisy.  Someone has to show them what honest accountability to those standards looks like.

So why is no one asking Brooks about his abandonment of honest accountability to the Pillars of Character Counts!?

Why is no one asking School Board President Marty Esquivel about his abandonment of his obligations as senior most role model in the entire school district, of honest accountability to the Pillars of Character Counts!?

It is because the people who should be asking, won't.
They are in cahoots.

The Journal won't ask.  KRQE won't ask. KOAT won't ask.
And KOB TV won't ask.

Why won't they ask, except that they are complicit in
the cover up of an ethics and accountability scandal
in the leadership of the APS?

photos Mark Bralley