CCSD board removes Levinski, names interim superintendent

Noel Lyn Smith The Daily Times
The Daily Times

SHIPROCK — Three Central Consolidated School District board members confirmed a previous decision to remove Superintendent Don Levinski during a special meeting Monday in the Shiprock Board Room.

During the board's Aug. 18 regular meeting, board Vice President Ruthda Thomas, Secretary Christina J. Aspaas and Member Randy Manning voted in favor of removing Levinski and appointing Colleen Bowman, the district's supervisor of schools, as interim superintendent.

Board President Charlie Jones Jr. and Member Adam Begaye voted against the removal.

The board's action was called into question after last week's meeting and Jones and Begaye filed a complaint with the New Mexico Attorney General's Office alleging a violation of the state's open meetings act.

Monday's agenda listed an executive session followed by reconvening in open session and possible action on ratifying the action from the Aug. 18 meeting.

Jones, Thomas, Aspaas and Manning spent almost an hour Monday in executive session with Bowman inside a conference room connected to the board room.

Begaye excused himself from the meeting after the executive session was approved.

After reconvening in open session, Manning, Aspaas and Thomas voted to ratify the previous decision to place Levinski on administrative leave and start the discharge process.

Manning, Aspaas and Thomas then voted to ratify the appointment of Bowman as interim superintendent and set her salary at $115,000.

Jones opposed both actions.

In an interview after the special meeting, Bowman said, "I believe that we're going to move our district forward for students. The focus is on making the lives of our children better — academically, socially — and to help our communities prosper through that resource."

She worked with the district approximately eight years then left to complete her doctorate at New Mexico State University. She returned to the district 18 months ago as director of operations and was recently named supervisor of schools.

"I'm truly prepared for it. I've been everything under the sun in this district," Bowman said.

Her experience includes Indian education, exceptional programs, human resources, board policy making, maintenance and student support services.

Earlier in the meeting, Begaye motioned to remove from the agenda the items calling for the executive session, reconvening in open session and the resolutions to ratify Levinski's removal and name Bowman as interim superintendent.

Begaye said he was making the motion "due to illegal processes" from the Aug. 18 regular meeting.

Jones seconded Begaye's motion then said, "The Aug. 18 meeting was done, I feel, improperly. It wasn't done right. There were two items posted on the agenda that weren't on the agenda to begin with."

"To me, it was wrong," Jones said then read the Aug. 20 letter by Paul Aguilar, New Mexico Public Education Department deputy secretary of finance and operations.

Aguilar wrote that the board's action may have violated the state's open meetings act by not listing any personnel action on the Aug. 18 agenda.

Begaye and Jones voted in favor of the motion while Manning, Aspaas and Thomas voted against it.

Following the vote, Manning made a motion to meet in executive session to discuss "limited personnel matters" and Aspaas seconded the motion.

Manning, Aspaas and Thomas voted in favor and Jones and Begaye opposed.

Immediately after the vote, Begaye asked to be excused from the special meeting.

After Jones approved Begaye's request, he packed his items and left.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and Follow her @nsmithdt on Twitter.