Española Public Schools Superintendent Fred Trujillo resigned Sept. 3 after the school board moved to reinstate him the day before, claiming the board denied him a request for bereavement leave.

“I feel that the Board wants to force me to resign, and I have no other choice,” states a short resignation letter Trujillo emailed to board President Gilbert Serrano.

He was on paid leave since May, after a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court alleged he failed to properly investigate reports of sexual abuse and may have protected abusers in Pecos Independent Schools during his nine-year tenure as superintendent in San Miguel County.

Three basketball coaches were accused of sexually abusing students during his tenure in Pecos, including assistant coach Joshua Rico, who was indicted in federal court in May. In that same period, a janitor named Louie Vigil was sentenced to 24 years in prison for abusing a minor male relative.

The Española school board agreed to pursue an investigation into Trujillo’s conduct as superintendent at Pecos Independent Schools after placing him on leave.

The board discussed the findings of the monthslong investigation during an executive session Sept. 2, in which the board moved to reinstate Trujillo. The New Mexican has requested the findings of the investigation.

In a phone call Thursday, Trujillo confirmed his resignation but provided no further comment, only saying he may issue a statement at a later date.

Serrano and other board members could not be reached for comment Thursday.

On Tuesday, the board convened a special meeting to discuss the resignation and reinstate interim Superintendent Vera Trujillo, who is not related to Fred Trujillo. Vera Trujillo, who formerly worked as a principal in Pojoaque, was appointed in June. She said she would remain in the position until the board identified a new hire, but said she would not apply for that position.

Deputy Superintendent Martina Tapia was designated superintendent during the short time when Vera Trujillo’s interim contract was terminated and Fred Trujillo had resigned.

In an Aug. 20 response to the civil lawsuit regarding his conduct at Pecos Independent Schools, Fred Trujillo along with fellow defendant, a former middle school principal and athletic director named Michael Lister, denied the allegations.

Their response utilized several defenses, including qualified immunity. Fred Trujillo and Lister, along with the Pecos school district, asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.

Fred Trujillo declined to comment on the case Thursday, and Lister is now employed with Española Public Schools.

Fred Trujillo was selected for the superintendent position in Española in 2020.

He’s also the defendant in a civil suit filed by a former student in late August alleging he and athletic director Michael Flores were disproportionately enforcing an unwritten policy on same-sex couples in Pecos High School, when Fred Trujillo was district superintendent.

According to that suit, which seeks unspecified damages, the district stopped enforcing that policy — separating students in dating relationships — after a period of mediation.

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