Sex Abuse Charges Against Ex-School Official Prompt Review

26 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

APNewsBreak: New Mexico AG eyes Albuquerque schools probe.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. DENVER (AP) – A Denver judge issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for a former New Mexico school administrator who faces child sex abuse charges in Colorado and violated terms of his bail when he left the state.

More than 24 hours after a warrant was issued for his arrest, former Albuquerque Public School deputy superintendent Jason Martinez had yet to surrender to Denver authorities Tuesday for failing to comply with conditions of his pretrial release on two felony criminal cases.The complaint filed Monday in state District Court in Santa Fe by Don Moya marks the latest black eye for Albuquerque Public Schools, where Superintendent Luis Valentino is under fire for hiring Jason Martinez, who resigned last week and is now being sought by Colorado authorities.

A longtime school administrator from Denver brought the professional credentials to become a high-level administrator in New Mexico’s largest school district this summer. Denver District Attorney’s spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough told the Journal Tuesday that prosecutors in her office have been in contact with Martinez’s attorney, Leonard Martinez of Denver, to arrange for the arrest. The day after his resignation from APS, New Mexico Political Report found that Martinez had been hiding from the school district the fact that he was facing a trial in Denver in October for four counts of sexual assault of a child. “Jason Martinez should have never been hired at Albuquerque Public Schools”.

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. According to authorities, both alleged assaults happened in 2012 and 2013 after Martinez left Denver Public Schools in 2012, where he was a grade school principal and a district administrator.

It accuses the two public officials of expressing their displeasure with Moya’s lack of support for the governor’s education agenda and says he was placed on administrative leave after he raised concerns about a contract awarded to a Denver company whose chief operating officer had worked with Jason Martinez. “Because of his relationship with Governor Martinez and Skandera, Jason Martinez was hired by APS without a background check,” the lawsuit further states. “Valentino subsequently protected Jason Martinez from submitting a background check.” The Governor’s Office called the accusations absurd and suggested the lawsuit was a political ploy by Moya, a vocal critic who previously served as a deputy education secretary in Democrat Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration. “This allegation is so false and over-the-top that we will be filing a complaint with the state bar against the lawyer and challenge her partner — who is an elected official — to agree to resign from office when he is unable to substantiate this absurd claim about the governor,” Gov. Martinez has tasked compliance investigators from the state education and public safety departments with launching the across-the-board review of personnel policies. 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. The judge Tuesday also revoked two $50,000 bonds posted by Martinez for his 2013 arrest and a domestic violence arrest earlier this year in which he allegedly struck two men in a Denver nightclub district in January.

An audience crowded the meeting and some demanded that Valentino step down. “This board takes our responsibility seriously, as well as our commitment to our constituents”, Duran wrote in a statement Sunday. But after he resigned, Martinez was deemed “ineligible to rehire,” Jones said, adding that he couldn’t say why on the advice of the district’s attorney. Under that level of supervision, he was supposed to check in with Pretrial Services by telephone one to four times a month and meet for case management once or twice monthly. But Pretrial Services officials, according to the Denver DA’s motion to revoke Martinez’s bail, had no idea Martinez had gone to work in Albuquerque this summer. Paperwork verifies that Martinez even signed the conditions of that release. “Sounds to me like one man who was a sociopath, came in here and caused a lot of damage,” said Marty Esquivel, a former APS Board Member, who interviewed with KRQE News 13 this week.

A lawyer for Karen Rudys, the district’s interim assistant superintendent for human resources, said Valentino was informed multiple times about Martinez refusing to complete his background check but ignored those concerns. “This was a horrific breach of trust for the parents of APS,” Balderas told The Associated Press on Monday. He said his office planned to investigate Martinez’s hire and whether the district conducted necessary criminal background checks on other employees, but stopped short of saying if his office would seek criminal charges. In fact, 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. In Denver, schools officials ran a background check with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Colorado Department of Education before it hired Martinez, according to district spokesman Will Jones, and the district received no complaints of misconduct in or outside its schools. Valentino, the Albuquerque superintendent, was selected for the superintendent post in June, and the school board plans to vote Thursday on whether he should be dismissed.

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