Santa Fe NM Sept 28 2017 Santa Fe Public Schools has begun replacing more than a third of its security guards this week after discovering they did not have the proper state certification for the job.
Superintendent Veronica García said four of the seven guards removed from the district’s high schools and middle schools Monday were never licensed through the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department to work as security guards — a certification process that includes a background check and proof of training — and the other three had recently allowed their state licenses to expire.
So far, the district has brought in five new security guards to replace them, García said.
The guards, among about 20 unarmed security personnel stationed at local schools, were employed through the district’s annual contract with Rio Rancho-based AJF Enterprises, which has been providing security services for the district since 2012. The district renewed the company’s contract in August for more than $556,000 to cover the current school year.
But García indicated school officials may consider other options in the future. “We are re-evaluating how we provide security for the schools,” she said.
An anonymous tipster informed the district last week that at least one AJF guard did not have the proper state licensure, García said. School officials then asked AJF to conduct an investigation of all of its employees who are assigned to the schools, and the company confirmed seven of them either were not licensed at all or did not have a current license.
None of the security guards removed Monday had faced claims of improper actions toward district personnel or students, García said, but one of them did recently fail to show up for work without informing a supervisor.
Art Famiglietta, the owner of AJF Enterprises, said in an interview earlier this week that the situation with his company’s unlicensed guards is “not acceptable, and we are taking action on it.”
“I’m diligently working with the school district, and the issue on hand is being corrected,” he said, adding that he is working with his employees to ensure they obtain or renew their required state licenses.
“It does happen occasionally,” Famiglietta said of the lapses.
But, he said, “I want to do whatever it takes to make sure this does not happen again.” Famiglietta declined further comment, saying he did not “want to tarnish the investigation.”
Unarmed security guards have been a constant presence in the district’s high schools and middle schools for at least five years, often stationed at the entrances or roaming the halls, as part of a broader security improvement effort that began in 2012.