CCSD questions legality of superintendent's removal

Joshua Kellogg The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The Central Consolidated School District board voted Tuesday to remove Superintendent Don Levinski, but now district officials are questioning whether the board's action was legal.

After a closed executive session during Tuesday's meeting, the board voted 3-2 to remove Levinski and appoint Colleen Bowman, the district's supervisor of schools, as interim superintendent, said CCSD spokesman James Preminger.

Preminger said Wednesday that the district has reached out to the New Mexico Public Education Department to determine if the vote was legal.

"The school board voted illegally to remove the superintendent, and the district is waiting for an official legal response from the (state education department)," Preminger said.

State education department spokesman Robert McEntyre said in an email that the department is looking into the matter.

When reached by phone Wednesday, Levinski declined comment on the board's actions, but thanked the community for allowing him serve their children.

Bowman could not be reach for comment on Wednesday.

Preminger said the board's actions were illegal, based on the New Mexico Open Meetings Act, and the board created "an action item that did not exist on the agenda in violation of state law."

The agenda for Tuesday's meeting lists a motion to enter an executive session to discuss limited personnel matters regarding the superintendent's evaluation. The agenda contains no action items for removing the superintendent nor for appointing an acting superintendent after the executive session.

"In this case, this item was not posted on the agenda, the board just decided to act outside the law to do their own thing," Preminder said.

School board president Charlie Jones declined to comment on the board's actions. He would only confirm that board members passed a motion to remove the superintendent.

Preminger said board Vice President Ruthda Thomas, Secretary Christina Aspaas and Randy Manning voted in favor of removing Levinski, and Adam Begaye and Jones voted against the measure.

Attempts to reach Thomas, Aspaas, Manning and Begaye for comment on Wednesday were not successful.

Jones would not confirm whether the board voted on selecting Bowman as the interim superintendent. Preminger said the board chose Bowman as interim superintendent after the executive session.

Jones said a special board meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Monday in the Shiprock board room in the CCSD offices to follow up on actions from Tuesday's meeting.

Preminger said Wednesday that he could not confirm the meeting was taking place.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.