Hanna Skandera is upset.
She sent a lengthy letter to the Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Directors yesterday in which she voiced concerns over how the board conducted some of their meetings last year and certain actions that may have been “in direct defiance” of directives issued from the PED.
While LCPS certainly has a long history of problems complying with the state’s open meetings act, the letter comes off as personal and defensive. Also, the first charge over the board directing Superintendent Stan Rounds to ignore directives is off base and was a matter of much controversy last year.
Last year, Skandera bullied LCPS into submission and forced the board to rescind their decision that protected teachers’ sick days from being included in end-of-year evaluations. The controversy was noted by lawmakers around the state and drew harsh words from folks like Senate Minority leader Michael Sanchez:
“PED has reached far beyond its legal authority to force the elected members of the school board of Las Cruces to carry out PED’s will. This is unwarranted intrusion and interference in the matters of an elected local school board, and it is wrong,” [Sanchez] said. “I can only call this an outrageous power grab by unelected and unaccountable state bureaucrats.”
Skandera threatened the LCPS board with takeover by the state if the decision was not reversed, but has apparently decided to keep making an issue of this in her newest attack on a local school board.
Additionally, at least one of her accusations about the LCPS board meeting being in violation of the Open Meetings Act appears to be completely baseless as reported by the Las Cruces Sun-News in their article today.
Gov. Martinez’ administration and PED have been under scrutiny recently for a number of flaps. Besides not showing much improvement in the state in the last six years, a recent report showed that a reading program that supposedly showed high results had been “erroneously reported” and wasn’t being offered equally to kids around the state.
Skandera, the state’s top education official, was not elected nor has she ever taught in a classroom setting, instead coming from a background of private education administration. She is also the Chair of the national PARCC testing non-profit that pushes states to adopt the controversial standardized test.
The LCPS board had directed the superintendent to ignore the rules that PED had set regarding teacher’s absences due to the fact that they were in direct violation of contracts signed by teachers in the LCPS system which allowed for teacher’s sick days to not count against their overall absences. That plan had been approved by PED previously in an email dated May 3, 2013 and signed by PED Director of Educator Quality Matt Montano.