Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

LCPS name seven people to interview for superintendent bid

Las Cruces Public Schools named seven semifinalists for its superintendent position, planning to narrow that number down after closed-door interviews by the end of the week.

The seven candidates selected for the interviews are Deborah Elder, Monica Mesa, Fred Montalvo, Raul Peña, Geovanny Ponce, Cnythia Retana and Ignacio Ruiz.

Only two of the candidates – Elder and Montalvo – have New Mexico experience. Montalvo works at Las Cruces Public Schools currently and is the only semifinalist with experience in the southern New Mexico school district.

In all, 30 candidates applied for the position. Source NM received 23 candidate’s resumes and cover letters from a record’s request to the district. The portal to apply was still open after the records request was fulfilled, said Kelly Jameson, the spokesperson for LCPS.

Source NM received the records on June 2, and the portal closed June 4. However, in a letter regarding the request, the district said it would fulfill a second records request by June 7, after the portal closed. Source NM was not given any additional records on June 7. When sending the records on June 2, the district wrote it was fulfilling both requests.

On Tuesday, Source NM filed a request for the seven other applicants’ materials – including Peña and Retana.




Deborah Elder

Presently the interim superintendent for Los Lunas Schools. Before that she was an executive director of innovation and school choice at Albuquerque Schools. She’s been a principal, staff developer, assistant principal and teacher in the Albuquerque Public Schools district. She is married to outgoing Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Scott Elder.

Monica Mesa

An assistant superintendent in Mesa Public Schools, currently overseeing 26 schools in the Arizona school district. Mesa has been a teacher, principal and principal coach in the Mesa Public Schools District.

Fred Montalvo

Currently the executive director overseeing operations across the Las Cruces Public Schools district. He’s been a principal at Picacho Middle school, and assistant principal at Camino Rael Middle School, and a former math teacher and athletic coordinator. He also works with the New Mexico Public Education Department as a member of its Hispanic Education Advisory Committee.

Raul Peña

Peña’s career has been in Texas schools. According to his LinkedIn, he was an administrator at Dallas Independent School District. He moved to overseeing elementary schools in Fort Worth, before becoming the Chief Talent Officer in 2021. In the press release, the district said he served as a teacher for two decades.

Geovanny Ponce

Ponce is the assistant superintendent at Houston Independent School District in Texas, overseeing 52 high schools. Ponce has been a middle school and high school principal in the district, and a bilingual teacher. In January, he was beat out for the superintendent position at Sioux City Falls Community Schools.

Cynthia Retana

Retana oversees 11 schools as one of three executive directors in Ector County Independent School District. Much of career has been spent with Socorro Independent School District, where she has been a principal in elementary, middle and high school levels. In 2018, she was promoted to an assistant superintendent.

Ignacio Ruiz

At present, Ruiz is an assistant superintendent for Clark County Schools in Las Vegas, Nevada. Before that, he was a director and principal at Tucson Unified School District. He has been an assistant principal, facilitator and teacher in Sunnyside Unified School District outside Tucson, Arizona. In 2021, he was a finalist in the APS superintendent search.



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