Embattled Albuquerque Schools Chief to Learn Fate

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

DPS Responds To Child Sex Abuse Allegations For Former Principal.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Embattled Albuquerque Schools Superintendent Luis Valentino, facing calls for his resignation for hiring an administrator facing child sex charges, follows a long line of Albuquerque school chiefs who were ousted over various controversies. Those school chiefs left the troubled district in the state’s largest city amid complaints of favoritism, contentious tenures, and allegations of drug addiction.

But there was more to his background: an arrest record that includes child sex abuse and domestic violence charges in Colorado that emerged publicly after his recent resignation from his post last week in Albuquerque. But the latest flap could end a school chief’s reign in just two months and could cloud the district’s future from bond ratings to problems attracting talented job applicants. “It’s a disaster from a public relations perspective,” said Tom Garrity, president of The Garrity Group Public Relations and a former Albuquerque superintendent. “It’s beyond anyone’s worst nightmare.” Jason Martinez was taken into custody a day after a Denver judge issued a warrant for his arrest for violating the terms of his bond agreement when he left Colorado without court permission. Timothy Jason Martinez’s appointment to head the Albuquerque School District’s instruction and technology division in June has prompted review into how a public employee could be hired at a district serving some 90,000 students with accusations as serious as those he is facing. He resigned abruptly last week from his position at Albuquerque schools, where his annual salary had been set at $163,000, said Rigo Chavez, a spokesman for Albuquerque Public Schools.

Parents, meanwhile, began circulating an online petition this week calling for Superintendent Luis Valentino’s resignation, collecting more than 1,500 signatures. “It’s upsetting to know someone would be allowed to even walk in the doors with that record,” said Angela Gonzales-Carver, a parent advocate from Albuquerque who serves on a programs committee for the National Parent Teacher Association. When we became aware of the criminal charges pending against Timothy Jason Martinez, we immediately investigated and can confirm there is no record of any alleged criminal activity or disciplinary action involving Martinez during his employment with us from July 1, 2002 through Jan. 3, 2012.

Martinez shouldn’t have even been in New Mexico, according to terms of a bail agreement that forbade him from leaving Colorado, where he’s scheduled to stand trial on the sex abuse charges Oct. 9. Prior to hiring Martinez, DPS conducted a background check, which included submitting Martinez’ fingerprints to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

He was arrested in Denver in July 2013 on suspicion of sexual assault involving two children – one who an affadavit says was assaulted while in Martinez’s care and the other on a trip to Las Vegas. Former superintendent Beth Everitt left her post in 2008 following a controversy over the changing a student’s failing grade and former superintendent Joseph Vigil died in a bizarre one-car rollover involving alcohol a few weeks before the start of a school year. The judge also revoked two $50,000 bonds posted by Martinez for his 2013 arrest and a domestic violence arrest in which he allegedly struck two men in a Denver nightclub district in January. During his tenure at DPS, Martinez served as principal of Dora Moore ECE-8 School, as an Instructional Superintendent and as Deputy of Academic Operations in Elementary Education. The Allison tenure resulted in residents voting down important school funding and led to the creation of a four-person superintendent team that included Everitt, Vigil and Garrity.

The Denver District Attorney’s Office has informed us that none of the victims in any of the alleged crimes are related to his work in Denver Public Schools. But Garrity said the district’s latest controversy happened much faster because Valentino, who was hired from San Francisco Unified School District, made early mistakes and didn’t understand the political fractions in the state.

In a statement Wednesday, it asked residents for patience. “As elected officials, we must answer to our constituents, but we also must abide by personnel and privacy laws,” the board said. “It’s a quandary we face, and we assure you that we will share with you what we can, when we can. A lawyer for Karen Rudys, the district’s interim assistant superintendent for human resources, said Valentino, the superintendent, was informed multiple times about Martinez refusing to complete his background check but ignored those concerns.

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