Madrid still out as basketball coach, future with district uncertain

New coach pegged to lead the basketball team complicates matter as questions linger

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New developments in the Questa Independent School District firing of Tomas Madrid as the head boys basketball coach emerged Tuesday (Oct. 24), as the district moved to make the removal permanent. During a rescheduled school board meeting Monday (Oct. 23), people alleged that someone new had been hired to replace Madrid as the head boys basketball coach and an additional person was appointed as assistant coach.

District Superintendent David Albert said that the basketball coach position was “at will” and no reason was necessary to remove Madrid from his post. He has yet to elaborate on any specifics regarding the case.

Albert confirmed Oct. 24 that Miguel Romero had been hired on as the head basketball coach and James Padilla as his assistant.

Monday’s meeting was originally scheduled for Oct. 17, but was rescheduled due to the amount of attendees who gathered at the district administration building to protest the move by Albert to fire Madrid. The second meeting was held at Alta Vista Elementary gymnasium. About 30 Questa-area residents showed up to hear the reasons for the dismissal and why it occurred so close to the start of the 2017-18 basketball season. Officially, teams can begin organized practices on Oct. 30. Current players on the basketball team were not present among the 30 or more community members who gathered to support the coach.

During the meeting, the board allowed audience members two minutes each for public comment. Several community members, teachers and parents spoke about issues ranging from the district’s budget crisis to Madrid’s termination. Madrid himself even spoke during the public comment section, citing the possible reason for his termination was due to him opening the gym after hours for students to utilize the space for play. He affirmed that he loved his students and players, but that he has never truly felt welcome in the Questa community.

In a further show of endorsement for Madrid, students and parents circulated a petition with more than 150 signatures, which was mentioned during the public comment section of the meeting. Madrid’s wife, Deborah Madrid, also spoke at the meeting citing “bully tactics” as a method of the termination. She also requested the petition be included in Madrid’s personnel file.

Those who spoke in protest of Madrid’s termination asked the board to provide a reason for the termination. However, as per protocol, the board made no public statements citing personnel policy.

“Individuals who are committed and dedicate their careers to the education of children, such as coach Madrid, earn the respect of those they come in contact with,” said attendee and concerned citizen Nancy Gonzales, who was at the meeting looking for answers. “It takes character to build programs.”

Madrid was hired in May 2016 to replace the late Cruz Chavez II, who at the time opted out of his contract to continue as head coach of the Wildcats. A 1992 graduate from Robertson High School (Las Vegas, New Mexico), this was Madrid’s first stint as head coach at the varsity level.

Madrid had worked with Questa as an assistant basketball coach before under Larry King from 2014 to 2015. While he still holds his teaching contract, it is not known whether or not Madrid plans to stay in the district.

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