The Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education voted Monday night to terminate Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez' contract and buy her out for $168,428 .
Along with BoE Vice President Glenn Wikle and board member Steve Carrillo, board secretary Linda Trujillo voted to end Gutierrez' contract prematurely. Gutierrez was under contract until the conclusion of next school year.
BoE president Barbara Gudwin and board member Frank Montaño voted against the buyout.
The vote took place after an extended executive session that ran between approximately 8:20 and 11:20 pm. The members almost came out of executive session twice during that period, then went back in for more discussion—much to the lament of dwindling audience members—two reporters and some district staff.
Carrillo made the motion to discontinue Gutierrez' contract and described the terms of the buyout. Trujillo then read from a prepared statement.
"I am grateful that [Gutierrez] is willing to help the district move forward," Trujillo said.
Wikle kept his remarks brief.
"I consider this contract to be quite generous. The contract includes an anti-disparagement clause, and I think it's time to move on," Wikle said. "So that was a 'yes.'"
Carrillo then praised Gutierrez' dedication to the district, but noted his optimism for its new start.
"The sun's coming up tomorrow and I intend to be there," Carrillo said. "I vote yes."
Montaño and Gudwin each spoke at length about their opposition to the action.
"If you really look at [Gutierrez'] service as a superintendent, I can't point to one thing that would merit letting her go," Montaño said. "I can't think of one."
Gutierrez, who was stylishly outfitted in a shiny red windbreaker, high-heeled zip-up cowboy boots and khaki pants, looked away from the audience throughout the comments, and didn't show emotion, although Gudwin, who was sitting next to her, cried when she described how the buyout will "detrimentally affect" district staff and students.
"I really don't understand how three people who have recently evaluated the superintendent, have sat through and approved the draft for a strategic plan that was worked on so diligently by the superintendent and by her executive team...I believe the superintendent deserved the right to lead this district forward and to implement the strategic plan," Gudwin said.
Carrillo tells SFR that Gudwin's emotional reaction was "inappropriate" and showed she is out of touch.
"I was surprised at the emotional turn in the meeting, and I think it was wholly inappropriate," Carrillo says."I believe the emotional outburst levied at the three new board members indicates that the board president doesn't grasp the gravity of the situation."
Gudwin didn't immediately return a call for comment.
Immediately after the board adjourned, Gutierrez hugged district human resources director Tracie Oliver, then approached SFR.
"This is your big story—go and get it," she said. "You don't have to deal with me anymore, and that will be one of my greatest pleasures."
added that SFR has "harmed the district" through inaccurate reporting.
When asked for an example, Gutierrez promised to sit down with SFR
before formally leaving the district to enumerate the alleged
inaccuracies. Gutierrez has previously made reference to inaccurate
reporting on the district by a "weekly newspaper," in her state of the
district speech last year, but has never cited an example when asked by
SFR. When pressed to name one example, she declined.
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