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. Governor Susana Martinez is ordering compliance investigators with the State Public Education Department and individuals from the Department of Public Safety to conduct an immediate review of background check policies for each school district in the state and undertake a thorough compliance review to ensure school districts are requiring personnel to receive timely criminal background checks.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.

New Mexico’s attorney general is launching an investigation into how the state’s largest school district hired a high-level administrator who faces child sex abuse charges. 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. A Denver judge has now issued a warrant for Martinez’s arrest after the city and county District Attorney’s Office issued a motion Monday to revoke Martinez’s bond.

The Albuquerque Journal reported ( Sunday that an attorney for Karen Rudys, the district’s head of human resources, said in a letter to APS Superintendent Dr. Martinez resigned from his job as Albuquerque Public Schools Deputy Superintendent last week after news reports surfaced that Martinez never completed a background check with the district. It later surfaced that he faces six felony counts of sexual assault on a child in Colorado. “I was surprised to learn of these charges and certainly would never have offered Mr. 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. While awaiting trial on those charges, he was arrested in January after an alleged attack on his boyfriend and another man in a Denver business district, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

The Journal on Tuesday learned the Denver Public Schools district has been conducting its own investigation after recently learning of Martinez’s criminal charges through news media reports. 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 Data Quality Campaign, a group that once honored Martinez for his work, has since removed a newsletter, press release and video where Martinez was named “district leader of the year.” Martinez was out on release while facing charges in two separate Colorado cases. 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. 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. Martinez never filed a cover letter, resume, or even application for his job with APS because he was appointed to his position by APS Superintendent Luis Valentino. Martinez began his career as a Denver school principal in 2002 and rose through the ranks to become deputy of operations in elementary education for the district. “We’ve been in a full-court press to find out if there were any things inappropriate while he worked here,” Jones said. “We’re open to any new information that comes in, but don’t have any information to suggest that we need to do any more digging.” The Denver DA’s Office alleged in the criminal information against Martinez that he began a pattern of child sexual abuse in 2010.

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