Las Cruces school district releases superintendent applications

The Las Cruces Public Schools administration building.

Heath Haussamen /

The Las Cruces Public Schools administration building.

The Las Cruces Public Schools released all 26 applications for the district’s open superintendent job — 14 submitted by candidates who were deemed to meet the qualifications for the position and 12 who were not. obtained the applications, which state law says are public documents, in response to an Inspection of Public Records Act request.

The applicant pool, “particularly for this time of the year, is quite good,” said LCPS spokeswoman Jo Galván. Searches tend to be best in the spring, when people are looking for new jobs to start between school years, she said.

“Yet, LCPS is pleased that individuals from across the country have shown an interest,” Galván said. “There is a good cross-section.”

Here are the names of the 14 applicants LCPS says meet the minimum qualifications for the superintendent job (click on a name to view that person’s full application):

  • Raymond R. Arsenault, who most recently was executive director of the East Range Academy of Technology and Science in Rochester, Minn.
  • Taryn M. Bailey, the chief school officer for the El Paso Independent School District in El Paso, Texas
  • Frank J. Chiapetti Jr., superintendent of the Gallup-McKinley County Schools in Gallup
  • Christian J. De La Oliva, principal of John F. Kennedy High School in Denver, Colo.
  • Elizabeth D. Duran Swinford, who most recently was consultant and superintendent for the Tuscaloosa County School System in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
  • Gregory A. Ewing, chief accountability and research officer for the Cobb County School District in Marietta, Ga.
  • John A. Heintz, who most recently was assistant superintendent for operations and chief legal officer for Niles Township District 219 in Skokie, Ill.
  • Christopher K. Hotchkiss, who most recently was chief executive officer for Creative Education Preparatory Institute in Albuquerque
  • A. Michael Montoya, the principal at Centennial High School in Las Cruces
  • Tracie E. O’Hara, the director of human resources for LCPS
  • Carlos R. Perez Jr., who most recently was the assistant superintendent for human resources for the Amityville Union Free School District in Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y.
  • Gregory Rodriguez, deputy superintendent for the Huntsville Independent School District in Huntsville, Texas
  • Arsenio Romero, assistant superintendent for instruction, curriculum and turnaround for the Roswell Independent School District in Roswell
  • Miguel A. Serrano, director of human resources for the Socorro Independent School District in El Paso, Texas

Here are the names of the 12 applicants LCPS says don’t meet the minimum qualifications for the superintendent job (click on a name to view that person’s full application):

  • Kevin Bur, who most recently was superintendent for the Sapulpa Public Schools in Sapulpa, Okla.
  • Jose Delfin, associate superintendent for the Carson City School District in Carson City, Nev.
  • William D. Grasty, who most recently was the principal of Alum Rock in San Jose, Calif.
  • Debbie G. Jimenez, a lunch monitor and food services substitute for LCPS
  • Steve Montanez, who most recently was a manager at ADP Total Source Workforce Planning in El Paso, Texas
  • Raul L. Nuques, who most recently was superintendent of the Hearne Independent School District in Hearne, Texas
  • Paul G. Rockhold, who most recently was an assistant principal and athletic director for the Hobbs Municipal Schools in Hobbs
  • Antonio N. Rubino, an adjunct faculty member at Houston Community College in Houston, Texas
  • Andrew Rynberg, who most recently was assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for the School District of Indian River County in Vero Beach, Fla.
  • Paul R. Schulte, executive director of auxiliary services and athletic director for the Salt Lake City School District in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Bolgen Vargas, who most recently was superintendent of the Rochester City School District in Rochester, N.Y.
  • Tori V. Villa, who most recently was a national accounts IT recruiter for GDH Consulting in Plano, Texas

The LCPS Board of Education plans to meet in closed session on Sept. 6 to select finalists from among the 14 applicants who met the minimum qualifications for the job. The district plans to hire a new superintendent by Nov. 1, Galván said.


The school district’s release of applications contrasts with the recent decision by the City of Las Cruces to release 11 applications for its open city manager job but withhold dozens more. has sued, seeking release of all city manager applications under the Inspection of Public Records Act. The case is pending.

The City of Las Cruces hired a private company, The Mercer Group, to run its city manager search. By contrast, LCPS is running its search in-house.

The city argues that some manager applications aren’t public record because The Mercer Group, not the city, holds them. But a 2009 N.M. Court of Appeals ruling makes clear that all applications for high-profile public jobs like city manager are public records in New Mexico. argues that the city can’t avoid required transparency by outsourcing its city manager search.

This article has been updated to include Galván’s comments. It has also been updated to remove letters of recommendation from the candidates’ applications. Though the district can choose to release such letters, state law allows them to be withheld, and the district promised applicants that their letters of recommendation would not be released. The district then inadvertently released those letters to, and we posted them online. Galván later requested that we remove them. Had there been high news value in the letters, we would not have honored such a request, but since the letters are glowing and don’t provide a lot of insight into the applicants, we decided to grant the request.

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