LOS LUNAS — With a three to two vote, members of the Los Lunas School Board voted to “discharge the employment” of superintendent Dana Sanders Tuesday evening.

Dana Sanders

Dana Sanders

Contract terminated

Board President Bryan Smith and board members Eloy Giron and Steven Otero voted in favor of discharging the superintendent while board members Frank Otero and David Vickers voted against.

Smith was authorized by the board to issue a notice of intent to Sanders to end her contract of employment.

“It’s unfortunate they’re continuing to retaliate with a discharge of employment, and it’s a shame they’re tearing this district apart,” Sanders said in a phone interview on Wednesday, June 17.

Smith could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning.

Sanders requested medical leave on April 3, but on April 5, she emailed the board members again saying she would be able to return sooner than the 30 days and would provide the proper medical paperwork so she could return. She was placed on paid administrative leave on April 16 after the board asked for additional medical documentation.

Smith said the board received the medical documentation on Tuesday, April 7, and requested a fitness-for-duty test in addition to the documentation.

“As your original medical documentation is in such contrast with the most recent documentation, the Board of Education will require a fitness for duty determination of your current medical status before you can return to work in any capacity,” Smith wrote to Sanders on April 8.

On May 14, Sanders sent out a letter containing complaints against some members of the school board, which she sent to each of the board members and multiple local news organizations, including the News-Bulletin.

Sanders stated in the letter she has received no explanation as to why she was put on administrative leave, and felt when the board requested more medical documentation, they were using that as a stall tactic until they could put her on administrative leave.

Smith said the board sent Sanders a letter on April 22 detailing why she was on administrative leave. On May 26, Smith sent out a response letter to Sanders, in rebuttal to her statement that he was working alone against her. He wrote the board members voted 5-0 to place Sanders on leave and hire an acting superintendent.

“Your placement on paid leave arose from you requesting extended FMLA supported by your health care provider for a medical condition you suffered,” Smith wrote. “Despite rumors, it is simply untrue that you sought leave to care for a family member. It was only upon the entire board temporarily filling your position with an acting superintendent that you made what appeared to be an incredible recovery and sought to return immediately.”

He said the entire board voted to have Sanders remain on paid leave pending the result of the financial investigation.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Otero clarified the board was still waiting to receive a report on the financial investigation.

Staff Writer

Anna Padilla is a native of Los Lunas, and is a graduate of the University of New Mexico. She began her journalism career with the VCNB in May 2019. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, SODA and the town of Peralta.

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