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School board calls special meeting regarding superintendent Greg Ewing

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Algernon D’Ammassa, Las Cruces Sun-News
Published 5:39 p.m. MT Aug. 12, 2019 | Updated 5:55 p.m. MT Aug. 12, 2019

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LAS CRUCES — Over the weekend, the Las Cruces Board of Education posted a special meeting to take place Tuesday afternoon regarding Superintendent Greg Ewing

At 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 13, the school board will go into closed executive session, as per the agenda, “to discuss Superintendent’s employment including possible resignation and other matters related to Superintendent’s contract (i.e. terms and conditions of employment).”

The meeting will take place in the school’s board chambers at the Las Cruces Public Schools administration building, 505 S. Main Street.

Following closed session, the board is set to discuss “possible action regarding Superintendent’s employment” as well as possible authorization for legal counsel to proceed as discussed in closed session regarding “matters related to threatened litigation.”

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On Monday morning, board President Ed Frank told the Sun-News that Ewing would be working from home Monday and Tuesday.

“LCPS remains focused on the start of the new school year, and on providing the best possible education for the 25,000 students who walk through our doors each day,” the district said in a statement.

The special meeting takes place just two months after the board voted unanimously to extend Ewing’s contract through June 30, 2022. Ewing’s base salary has been $180,000 since June of 2017, when he was granted a raise by the board after six months on the job. 

Graduation rate growth, controversial moves

Ewing’s first day as LCPS superintendent was Dec. 5, 2016, and to date he has enjoyed the public support of the board in the face of complaints about moving administrators into different positions or placing them on administrative leave until their contracts expire. 

Earlier this year, the district disclosed publicly that 57 employees were placed on leave during the 2017-18 school year alone, an increase from the previous administration, led by Superintendent Stan Rounds.

MORE: Las Cruces school district sued over public records access

Graduation rates kept trending upward, however. Following that year, the district’s total graduation rate increased from 85.5 to 86.2 percent, exceeding the statewide rate of 73.9 percent, as well as the 2017 national average of 84.6 percent reported by the National Center for Education Statistics. 

In 2018, Ewing ordered the evacuation of Columbia Elementary School, which had been plagued with severe mold and moisture problems since it opened in 2003, relocating the entire school to a building on the campus of Centennial High School. He ultimately recommended the elementary school be razed and a new structure be built in a different position on the same property, which the board supported unanimously. 

Public education secretary candidate

Tripp Stelnicki, a spokesman for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, confirmed Monday that Ewing had been a candidate for secretary of the Public Education Department after Lujan Grisham took office in 2019. Karen Trujillo, a Doña Ana County commissioner, was ultimately selected.

Stelnicki said Ewing was not interviewed for the second opening, after Trujillo was dismissed last month. Ryan Stewart, an educator from Philadelphia, will lead the statewide department.

MORE: Ryan Stewart named New Mexico secretary of education

The Columbia decision, Ewing’s personnel moves, and other concerns about his administration figured prominently in an effort to recall three members of the school board as well as a discrimination lawsuit by a former Head Start coordinator, settled for $250,000 last month. A possible settlement in a second discrimination claim is currently being facilitated.

The matter of the school board member recall is under appeal, and awaiting action in New Mexico’s Supreme Court.

Algernon D’Ammassa can be reached at 575-541-5451, adammassa@lcsun-news.com or @AlgernonActor on Twitter.

More Las Cruces education news

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