Former Los Lunas superintendent confirmed as PED Cabinet Secretary
Lawmakers have confirmed Arsenio Romero as the Secretary of the Public Education Department. He was previously superintendent of Los Lunas Schools and superintendent and CEO of Deming Public Schools.
His appointment comes after former Secretary Kurt Steinhaus resigned in January, the third secretary to leave during Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham's time in office.
Romero was questioned in the Senate Rules Committee, including on the state's efforts to serve students who are low-income, Native American, have disabilities or are English language learners, in the wake of the 2018 Yazzie/Martinez lawsuit that found they were not getting sufficient education.
"We have done a lot of work in the last few years to be able to move our state forward in this area, but we haven't seen all the benefits yet. And those are right around the corner," he said.
He was also asked about the possibility that his position as Public Education Secretary will soon be eliminated. A proposed constitutional amendment which has so far had bilateral support would re-establish a state board of education with a board of governors, much like a system that existed before 2003
"I have a little bit of a worry about how that will go down if that becomes a reality," he said.
But he said he would try to make his tenure as effective as possible. He emphasized the need for better data on everything from instruction to absenteeism to improve the state's chronically poor educational outcomes.
His appointment was confirmed by the full Senate later Wednesday.