Board will vote on buyout of super's contract

Superintendent has been on paid administrative leave since board members voted to remove him during August 2015 meeting

Joshua Kellogg
  • If approved, Don Levinski would tender his resignation, and his contract buyout payment would be $110,000.
  • The dispute between Levinski and the board has dragged on for 17 months.
  • Board members might offer interim Superintendent College Bowman the superintendent position during Friday's meeting.

FARMINGTON — The Central Consolidated School District Board of Education is preparing to buy out Superintendent Don Levinski's contract, accept his resignation and possibly offer interim Superintendent Colleen Bowman his position.

Central Consolidated School District Superintendent Don Levinski waits for the start of an Oct. 25 hearing at the Central Consolidated School District office in Shiprock.

Members of the CCSD board are scheduled to take action during a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Friday to vote on approving a payment of $110,000 to buy out the remainder of Levinski's employment contract, according to the board agenda and court paperwork.

The previous superintendent before Levinski, Gregg Epperson, settled his contract for $200,000 in December 2011 after being placed on administrative leave in May 2011, according to The Daily Times archives.

The action item includes the "acceptance of (Levinski's) resignation" if the motion is approved, according to the agenda. Board members are scheduled to meet in a closed session during the meeting before voting.

Levinski's attorney Eleanor K. Bratton said her client has been on paid administrative leave since the CCSD board voted 3-2 to remove him as superintendent during an Aug. 18, 2015, meeting.

At the same meeting, the board voted to appoint Bowman — the district's supervisor of schools at the time — as the interim superintendent.

Levinski's removal from the superintendent position has resulted in a dispute that has lasted 17 months.

There was a letter sent to the CCSD board from the New Mexico Public Education Department that raised possible concerns that the board may have violated the state's open meetings act when initially voting to remove Levinski.

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office became involved when board members Charlie Jones Jr. and Adam Begaye filed a complaint with the office, accusing board members Ruthda Thomas, Christina J. Aspaas and Randy Manning of violating the state's open meeting laws.

A Feb. 5, 2016, letter from the AG's Office indicated the board violated the state's open meetings act during the Aug. 18, 2015, meeting but corrected the actions by holding a vote on Aug. 24, 2015, to ratify its initial vote.

There are three lawsuits that were filed in district court by Levinski against Thomas and Manning and the school board.

Lawsuits alleging that Thomas did not live in her district and that sought a restraining order against the CCSD board have been dismissed. A lawsuit alleging that Manning doesn't live in his district and has misused public funds is ongoing. Manning has disputed the allegations, according to court records.

As part of the discharge process, a petition for declaratory judgment was filed in district court on Dec. 30 by Levinski seeking $110,000, according to court records.

A stipulated judgment was issued on Jan. 3 by Judge Daylene Marsh approving the amount, contingent on the approval of state Education Secretary Hanna Skandera.

Bratton, Levinski's attorney, said she became aware of Skandera's approval of the settlement on Friday.

The board members are scheduled to discuss and possibly offer Bowman a contract to become the district's new superintendent, according to the agenda.

Her contract extension through June 30 was approved by the board members during a Jan. 5 special meeting.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.