Farmington Public Schools trustees voted 5-1 Tuesday to remove restrictions on censured colleague Angie Smith.
Introduced November 16, the censure resolution claimed that Smith had publicly accused Supt. Bob Herrera of treating Black teachers and students “less favorably” than white staff and students. It also said those comments had directly led to Herrera’s resignation.
Hired in 2019, Herrera will receive a $105,000 payment to close out his 3-year contract. He also agreed to release the district from any legal claims. His last day is January 22; however, he will continue to serve as a consultant through the end of the school year.
The censure disavowed the statements and prohibited Smith from serving as a board officer and representing the district on outside committees.
Tuesday’s original agenda item described removing the censure, but trustee Terri Weems pointed out that the severe admonishment couldn’t be undone. However, she said, the other actions in the resolution could.
Board president Zach Rich felt it appropriate to reconsider the action with three new trustees in place.
“This would put all board members on an equal footing,” he said.
Trustee Mable Fox, who took her oath of office Tuesday, said she had not seen any proof of the allegations. She said the November 16 special meeting agenda listed only a discussion of the district’s strategic plan and an employee matter.
“The special meeting appeared to be a bait and switch meeting, as some board members were not notified of the plan to censure,” she said.
‘Failure of the entire board’
New trustee Claudia Heinrich said a majority of veteran board members approved the measure, which covered Smith’s actions over several months.
“I would like to trust that Ms. Smith will work with this new board,” she said. “But trust is built not by words, but by actions over time.”
Heinrich’s motion to extend the censure for six months failed for lack of a second.
Weems said that with three – and, soon, four – new trustees, the three more experienced officials may need to step into some leadership positions. She said she was most disappointed with the number of distractions in the district over the past two years. The departure of the last two superintendents, she said, is a “failure of the entire board.”
“The good news is we have four new board members, a new majority committed to moving this district forward and not encumbered by the past,” she said.
The motion to lift the restrictions passed 5-1, with Heinrich opposing.
Later in the remote meeting, Smith thanked a number of supporters and apologized to Herrera. She denied posting negative comments on social media and accusations that she wants a Black superintendent.
“I want the right superintendent,” she said. “I want this district to move forward. We’ve got a lot to do. This back and forth, it doesn’t make sense.”
Watch the full meeting; the censure discussion starts around the 3:36:10 mark: