August 23, 2015

APS HR head: Superintendent knew background check wasn’t completed

Albuquerque Public Schools

The Albuquerque Journal reported on Saturday night that APS superintendent Luis Valentino was told multiple times that his deputy superintendent did not have a completed background check.

Mugshot of Jason Martinez.

Mugshot of Jason Martinez.

The state’s largest newspaper reported on a letter from  APS interim assistant superintendent for Human Resources Karen Rudys in which she said that she informed Valentino multiple times about the lack of a background check for Jason Martinez.

New Mexico Political Report revealed on Friday that Martinez, under the name Timothy Jason Martinez, was facing multiple charges related to sexual abuse of a child. Martinez’s trial is set for October.

From that report:

Martinez abruptly resigned from APS on Thursday. APS spokesman Rigo Chavez said the resignation came one day after Valentino learned Martinez still hadn’t completed a required criminal background check and fingerprinting.

Chavez said this followed an incident two weeks into Martinez’ APS tenure when Valentino initially learned that the background check was not completed. At that time, Martinez assured Valentino he would complete the background check, according to Chavez.

Martinez never completed a background checkIn a statement issued earlier in the week, Valentino said he knew about Martinez’ missing background check just twice: once two weeks into Martinez’ job, where he promised Valentino he would take care of it right away, and again last Wednesday, one day before Martinez stepped down.

However, the Albuquerque Journal reveals that Rudys tried to bring the lack of a background check to the attention of Valentino six different times.

In a letter obtained by the Journal on Saturday, APS interim assistant superintendent for HR Karen Rudys stated she “raised the issue (of Martinez’s incomplete background check) directly” with Valentino “on or about” June 24, July 2, July 8, July 15, Aug. 11 and Aug. 19.

Until the Aug. 19 communication, “each time, Dr. Valentino deflected her by simply stating that he ‘was aware of the issue,’” Rudys said in the letter.

Such a background check would have uncovered Martinez’s alleged crimes.

The letter seems like an almost direct response to statements by APS Board of Education president Don Duran. Again, the Albuquerque Journal.

“I just am baffled that employees are put in the workplace without finishing their paperwork,” Duran said according to the Journal. “My concern is about the procedure that the district has in order to ensure that any employee put in any position has gone through the hiring process.”

KOB-TV later reported that Martinez also faces a felony assault with a deadly weapon charge from January of 2015.

A background would have presumably caught this.

According to state law regarding school employees and volunteers, “An applicant for initial licensure shall be fingerprinted and shall provide two fingerprint cards or the equivalent electronic fingerprints to the department to obtain the applicant’s federal bureau of investigation record.”

The APS website says, “Albuquerque Public Schools shall conduct background checks, based upon fingerprint identification, of all prospective employees.”