Governor says expectations not met, removes Karen Trujillo as education secretary

From Staff and Wire Reports
Las Cruces Sun-News
Karen Trujillo, of Las Cruces, is announced as the new as the new Public Education Department secretary at a news conference in Santa Fe on Thursday. In November, Trujillo was elected to the Doña Ana County Commission and earlier this month she was named commission chair. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will be appointing Trujillo's replacement to the board.

LAS CRUCES - Karen Trujillo is no longer in charge of the state's public education department.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said her "expectations were not met in a number of areas" in announcing Trujillo's removal in a Monday evening news release.

Trujillo is a former Doña Ana County Commissioner and Las Cruces resident who was named education secretary about six months ago.

On her personal Facebook page, Trujillo wrote that she was "let go" by the governor. 

"I was honored to work with the amazing team at NMPED to move education forward in NM," Trujillo wrote. "They will continue to do that, I have no doubt. On that note, is anyone hiring?" 

Tripp Stelnicki, a spokesman for Lujan Grisham, said Trujillo declined an initial request to resign and then was “removed.”

Trujillo did not immediately respond to a query from the Sun-News.

Governor appoints interim secretary

“I want to thank Karen for her work these recent months,” Lujan Grisham said in the news release. “Unfortunately my expectations were not met in a number of areas. It is absolutely imperative that we genuinely transform public education in this state. We must identify a vibrant and ambitious new leader for the Public Education Department as quickly as we possibly can. The well-being of New Mexico’s students, parents and educators remains the top priority of this administration.”

Deputy Public Education Secretary Kara Bobroff will serve as interim secretary, the governor's office announced.

Trujillo's rise to the state's top role in education was swift. 

She won her first run for public office in November and just 27 days after being sworn in as District 5 commissioner, she resigned from the county commission to become education secretary

An educator for 25 years, Trujillo was most recently interim associate dean for research in New Mexico State University’s College of Education. Before that, she was a high school math teacher and principal for 19 years. 

Trujillo was tapped in January to carry out the governor’s agenda for education reforms that include a new system for evaluating teacher performance, along with a major increase in spending on public schools and at-risk students.

A district court ruled last year that the state was failing to provide children an adequate education, especially when it comes to students from poor and minority households.

More:Q&A with Karen Trujillo, New Mexico education secretary

Stelnicki said the governor decided a change in leadership was needed.

"If we are going to deliver on the governor's vision of a moonshot for New Mexico's children and educators, and we are, a change had to be made," he said. "There were management, communication and organization issues — it comes down to leadership qualities and not meeting the governor's expectation of effective implementation on those and other fronts."   

On Bobroff's interim appointment Stelnicki said, "We feel really good about the interim leadership at the department and our cohort of diversely qualified deputy secretaries and the message to students and educators and school communities is: A meaningful transformation of public education remains this administration's top priority."

A nationwide search is being launched to find a successor.

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