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Three Finalists Chosen in Albuquerque Superintendent Search

The school board in Albuquerque, N.M., has named three finalists as its search for a superintendent winds down, with an announcement of the new district leader expected after the board's meeting on Saturday.

The finalists are Almudena 'Almi' Abeyta, a deputy superintendent for teaching and learning in the Santa Fe Public Schools; Michael Cardona, the chief school officer in the Houston Independent School District; and Luis Valentino, an associate superintendent/chief academic officer in the San Francisco Unified School District.

The district has been without a permanent superintendent since last August when it abruptly parted ways with its former leader Winston Brooks, who had been superintendent since 2008.

At the time, the board said it had reached a settlement agreement with Brooks and that it was paying him $350,000 to buy out the last two years of his contract. The board did not detail the reasons for the split.  In the announcement, the board said that the departure "will allow both the Board and Brooks to establish a new direction. Both agree that this decision is the best option for APS at this time."

The district's chief operations officer, Ruben Hendrickson, served as acting superintendent until Brad Winter took over as the interim.  

Brooks sued Winter in February for what he said was a violation of the settlement agreement that barred both parties from making statements that "disparage the conduct, character, performance or ethics" of the former superintendent and his wife, according to KRQE NEWS 13.

The news station reported this week that  59 candidates initially applied to fill the superintendent's position. The numbers were eventually whittled down, with the board announcing six semi-finalists last week and choosing the three finalists on Thursday.

The district embarked on a public campaign to solicit input from teachers, parents, and the community in the selection process. 

The finalists were expected to participate in forums focusing on parents and families on Thursday; and in separate sessions on Friday, one with business and government officials and another with students and district employees. 

The board is scheduled to meet Saturday morning, and the new superintendent is expected to be named later in the day, according to the district. 

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