Records show Mesalands president fired

Draft minutes from an Oct. 31 Mesalands Community College board meeting show president Mildred Lovato has been fired.

File photo

According to minutes from a Oct. 31 Mesalands Community College board meeting college president Mildred Lovato has been fired.

The action came immediately after board members said they would not honor Lovato's commitment, on behalf of the college, to help administer a state program without the board's consent.

The minutes show Lovato's contract was terminated on a unanimous vote in an open session that followed a closed-door executive meeting.

Lovato could not be reached for comment.

The minutes are considered unofficial or draft minutes until approved by the board, which is expected to happen at its next session on Tuesday, said Kimberly Hanna, public relations director.

Trustee chair J Bronson Moore said Tuesday that Lovato has not been fired, but was placed on paid administrative leave during the Oct. 31 executive session.

Moore said the board sent Lovato a letter outlining her status, but insisted on Tuesday she has not been fired.

The Quay County Sun requested minutes of recent meetings through the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act and they were released on Thursday, showing Lovato was terminated.

Moore could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.

According to the minutes:

  • Board trustees voted to exit an executive session, and once back in public session, trustee Jimmy Sandoval offered a motion to terminate Lovato effective immediately.
  • Sandoval's motion stated Lovato would receive 120 days of pay.
  • Trustee Elizabeth Estrada seconded the motion. A roll call vote was taken with all members present voting yes.

The minutes also show that prior to the board's vote to terminate Lovato, Vice President of Academic Affairs Natalie Gillard reviewed a verbal contract Lovato is alleged to have entered into with the Home Visit Group. HVG is a program offered through the New Mexico Children Youth Families Department.

Gillard said the agreement enlisted the college as the fiscal agent for the organization.

According to the minutes, Gillard requested action, as the board deemed appropriate. She noted that Lovato did not have board's approval for this commitment.

Trustee Theresa Stephenson spoke in the capacity as a Maternal Child Health (MCH) Council member, stating her group was slated to receive a grant that would benefit the community.

However, Stephenson said, the council needed to acquire the assistance of a fiscal agent. She said the fiscal agent needed to be a government or school entity.

Moore asked "how much work this would entail for the College?" minutes show.

Gillard said the fiscal agent would be responsible for duties such as paying bills and processing payroll.

Aaron Kennedy, vice president of academic affairs, informed the board the business office is extremely busy. Mesalands staff said it would not be feasible for the business office to add the additional responsibilities.

Trustee Jim Streetman offered a motion the board not approve the contract with HVG. Estrada seconded the motion. A roll call vote was taken with all but Stephenson, who abstained, voting not to approve the contract.

It was not immediately clear whether Lovato attended the meeting or whether she had received board input related to the HVG agreement.

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