New Mexico

Only on ABC-7: Resume, background check for LC principal facing child porn charges

Resume background check for LC...

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - Before Joel Aguilar Villanueva became the principal of Zia Middle School, he was the principal or assistant principal at multiple schools in Texas, according to public records obtained by ABC-7.

Villanueva was arrested on April 3, 2019 in connection with transportation of child pornography and possession of child pornography. A federal judge denied the former ZMS principal bond on April 9th, calling him a "danger to the community."

Previous positions

Before Villanueva was hired in the Las Cruces Public School District, he held multiple positions in Texas, according to his resume.

  • Assistant principal, Duncanville Independent School District
    • Location: Duncanville, Texas
    • Date of employment: August 2016 - January 2017
    • Reason for leaving: "Seeking principalship/director position"
  • Middle school principal, Crowley Independent School District
    • Location: Crowley, Texas
    • Date of employment: June 2015 - June 2016
    • Reason for leaving: "Personal resignation due to culture."
  • High school magnet principal, Dallas Independent School District
    • Location: Dallas, Texas
    • Date of employment: July 2013 - July 2015
    • Reason for leaving: "Family need"
  • Principal, Keller Independent School District
    • Location: Keller, Texas
    • Date of employment: August 2012 - October 2012
    • Reason for leaving: "Obtained HS offering"
  • Principal, Fort Worth Independent School District
    • Location: Forth Worth, Texas
    • Date of employment: August 2008 - June 2012
    • Reason for leaving: "Seeking other career opportunities"

Other LCPS positions of interest

In total, Joel Villanueva expressed an interest in six LCPS positions for the 2017 - 2018 academic year:

Positions that were avilable at the time:

  • Principal at Zia Middle School
  • Head freshman football coach at Centennial High School

Positions that had already been filled:

  • Principal at Conlee Elementary School
  • Principal at Jornada Elementary School
  • Director of dual language and migrant education
  • Executive director of dual language and migrant education programs

*Note: The application does not specify what the terms "open vacancy" and "closed vacancy" mean.

Villanueva's application

The district posted an opening for the Zia Middle School principal position on July 12th, 2017, according to records. It was closed on July 17th, 2017.

Villanueva applied for the job while under contract with the Duncanville Independent School District. That contract was set to expire in June 2018, he wrote.

The former principal told the district he had never had a teaching certificate or teaching license revoked or suspended. Villanueva said he had never failed to be "rehired," "asked to resign a position," "resigned to avoid termination" or "terminated from employment."

Villanueva wrote he had never been reprimanded, disciplined or discharged. He also said he had never been convicted of any sex abuse or drug-related offenses.

Other finalists

The top three finalists for the position were:

District statement

When asked about the district's process and protocols for vetting, a spokeswoman released this statement to ABC-7:

“During the hiring process, every candidate applying to work for the district must pass an FBI fingerprint background check, which is standard for all new hires of the Las Cruces Public Schools. The same requirements apply to school volunteers.

Employment is contingent upon the results of the background check. All candidates must have the proper credentials before they are considered for any position within the district. Candidates applying for a principal position must provide a letter of recommendation from their current supervisor or a former supervisor within the past 12 months.

Additionally, for positions that require a license, candidates must fill out an application for licensure, which must be approved and issued by the New Mexico Public Education Department before they are granted an interview with the district. Lastly, we check references as part of the vetting process for all candidates.”

Union statement

A spokesman for the National Education Association of New Mexico said the union holds all public educators to high standards.

"N.E.A. New Mexico expects of all of our members and of all public school employees to always put student safety and well-being first," said Charles Goodmacher. "We are in so many ways an example for the students that we work with."


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