A disgraced former Albuquerque Public Schools superintendent got a new job in education, this time in Oregon. Portland Public Schools hired Luis Valentino to help guide academic strategy on a three-month contract, according to The Oregonian. Valentino was expected to officially sign his contract Monday. Valentino resigned from APS just two months into his job, after NM Political Report revealed he hired an Assistant Superintendent, Jason Martinez, without conducting a background check. NM Political Report found out that Martinez was facing trial for four felonies related to sexual abuse of a child.
Albuquerque Public Schools has let go of its former Chief Financial Officer Don Moya, according to the Albuquerque Journal. The newspaper reports that APS didn’t renew Moya’s contract earlier this month after his medical leave time expired. Moya seriously injured himself in a motorcycle incident last fall, breaking both of his legs. Moya’s relationship with the school district has been strained since last summer. Last August, Moya raised concerns about a potential school district contract with a Denver IT company whose then-chief operating officer had previously gotten fired from Denver Public Schools for taking kickbacks from companies.
Albuquerque Public Schools is now officially done with former superintendent Luis Valentino after a judge and the Public Education Department approved his buyout. The buyout, which was approved last week, means APS paid out $80,000 to Valentino to buyout the rest of his contract. Valentino also received his regular pay through October 1, despite resigning on August 31. This meant that, in all, Valentino received over $100,000 after his resignation from the agreement with the Albuquerque Public Schools board. In a letter from PED secretary Hanna Skandera in which she accepted the buyout, she said she was “deeply disappointed” at the buyout.
Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Luis Valentino, who’s had as rough a month professionally as one can imagine, is ending the month by taking vacation time. APS spokesman Rigo Chavez said Valentino took annual leave Thursday afternoon and was also out of the office Friday. Valentino is facing intense scrutiny amid controversy over the hire of deputy superintendent Jason Martinez, who had prior arrest records of domestic abuse and sexual assault of a child. Martinez did not undergo a required background check. Valentino is also under fire for his handling of APS Chief Financial Officer Don Moya, who filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the school district earlier this week.
Another five-plus hour closed door emergency Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education meeting led to no immediate decision on Superintendent Luis Valentino’s fate. Valentino has been under fire for the revelations that his handpicked deputy superintendent was arrested in 2013 in Denver on multiple charges of sexual assault of a child. APS never completed a required background check on Martinez that would have caught the arrest as well as a later arrest for domestic abuse. In an interview New Mexico Political Report on Wednesday, Valentino admitted hiring Martinez had been a mistake. Instead of making a decision, school board president Don Duran scheduled another emergency meeting next Monday for 7 am.
One day before an emergency school board meeting that could decide his fate with Albuquerque Public Schools, Superintendent Luis Valentino is speaking with media about the controversy that has rocked the school district this month. New Mexico Political Report spoke with Valentino midday Wednesday about the controversial text message that started it all, the hire of a deputy now in jail in Denver for breaking his pretrial conditions for charges against him of sexual assault of a child and what exactly Valentino’s potential future with Albuquerque Public Schools would look like. Here is Valentino addressing the scandal in his own words, starting with the first dispute, which involved APS Chief Financial Officer Don Moya’s opposition to an audit of the school district’s IT systems.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed. New Mexico Political Report: Why does the IT systems need an audit? Luis Valentino: it wasn’t just about that system.
New Mexico Political Report senior reporter Joey Peters appeared on KUNM Tuesday afternoon to talk about the scandal enveloping Albuquerque Public Schools. Peters was on during All Things Considered on Tuesday and spoke about being the first to report on the mistaken text message APS superintendent Luis Valentino sent to Chief Financial Officer Don Moya and how he was the first to report that former APS deputy superintendent Jason Martinez is facing trial in Colorado for sexual abuse of a child. Audio of the five-minute conversation with Elaine Baumgartel is available on KUNM’s website. While the story started with the text message sent by Valentino to Moya, when the text message appeared to be meant for Public Education Department secretary Hanna Skandera, it quickly ballooned beyond that. Martinez was then accused of attempting to steer a possible contract for an IT assessment toward the technology company of a former work colleague, one who was fired from Denver Public Schools for accepting kickbacks.
As Albuquerque Public Schools remains in the thick of scandal, Gov. Susana Martinez is ordering a review of background check policies in all New Mexico school districts. Susana Martinez announced Tuesday that the state Public Safety Department and Public Education Department will conduct a “thorough compliance review” to make sure each district is performing “timely” background checks of its employees. The order follows New Mexico Political Report’s revelation last week that now former APS Deputy Superintendent Jason Martinez was arrested in 2013 in Denver on charges of sexual assault of a child. Jason Martinez, who was also arrested earlier this year on two violent assault charges, is facing trial in Denver this October. A warrant is currently out for Jason Martinez’ arrest for breaking pretrial conditions that bar him from leaving Colorado without court approval.
A Denver district judge agreed to revoke two bonds for Timothy Jason Martinez. The order from Judge Martin Egelhoff came late Monday afternoon, the same day the District Attorney’s Office filed the motion to revoke the bonds. This means an arrest warrant is now out for Martinez, who resigned from his role as deputy superintendent of Albuquerque Public Schools last Thursday. “As a standard practice, we have reached out to his attorney to let him know of the motion and warrant,” Denver District Attorney spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough wrote in an email Tuesday morning. Martinez’ arrest warrant is just the latest in a ballooning APS scandal that’s involved alleged retaliation against an administrator, a missed background check of an alleged pedophile and a whistleblower lawsuit implicating the state’s education secretary and its highest office—the governor—in the controversy.