Questa school board delays meeting

Overflow crowd turns out to protest coach's firing

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The Questa Independent Schools Board of Education decided to postpone its regular Tuesday (Oct. 17) meeting and hold it at a larger venue after seeing the crowd gathered outside the administration office and spilling into the hall, most of them there to find out why the head boys basketball coach had been fired.

More than 30 members of the small community north of Taos, including students and parents, attended the regular board meeting to show their support for former basketball coach Tomas Madrid. The crowd couldn't cram into the administrative office, where the meetings are usually held, prompting the board to reschedule the meeting for 6 p.m. Monday (Oct. 23) in the gymnasium at Alta Vista Elementary School. Those in support of Madrid, who is also a teacher at Questa High School, were eager to voice their opinions and concerns to the board about the decision to let Madrid go two weeks before the start of the official season. Questa police, as well as Taos County sheriff's deputies, were also present at the meeting.

"He's just a guy trying to help out some kids," said Questa High School junior basketball player Noah Crider after the meeting was postponed. "He builds our character and it's not just on the court - it's off the court, too. He's always looking out for our best interests."

Madrid leaves Questa with a 17-9 record for the boys basketball team and still retains his teaching position within the district. Players, such as Crider, who were present at the meeting were confident in saying they would not suit up for another coach as the 2017-18 season begins in two weeks. Crider said most of the team members want Madrid to stay as their head coach.

Some thought the board knew the meeting would be packed and they would have to postpone it. "I think they already knew they were going to be at capacity [for the meeting]," said parent Maria Gonzales.

The board rescheduled the meeting for Oct. 23 to give the necessary minimum 72 hours of notice for a public meeting. The subject of Madrid's contract was not included on the agenda for Tuesday's regular board meeting and members of the community elected to try and speak during the public comment section of the board meeting. The meeting will carry on Oct. 23 with the items listed in the original agenda.

During the meeting, the Questa board was set to recognize students for the Student Award of Excellence from the National Leadership Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists, as well as the efforts of Questa High School and Río Costilla Southwest Learning Academy. Both schools received a B grade from the New Mexico Public Education Department. QHS was to be recognized for raising its previous year's grade from a C to its current B, the highest public high school grade in Taos County.

Questa Independent School District Superintendent Dr. David Albert did not offer a comment on the termination and only said that Madrid had an "at-will" contract, meaning either he or the school could end the agreement without reason.

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