August 25, 2015

AG offers assistance to APS in light of scandal

Courtesy photo

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas.

The Attorney General is calling on a review of Albuquerque Public Schools’ policies on hiring and a security assessment following the news that a former deputy superintendent is facing child sexual assault and domestic abuse charges.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas. Courtesy photo.

Courtesy photo

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas. Courtesy photo.

“There is simply no explanation for exposing any of our children to an individual who has any violent or sexual criminal charges in his background,” Attorney General Hector Balderas wrote in the letter to APS superintendent Luis Valentino.

Martinez never underwent a background check. It was only after this that New Mexico Political Report found out that Martinez was facing criminal charges for sexual abuse of a child. APS said they did not know about the charges until New Mexico Political Report reached out to the district for comment.

Martinez also faces criminal charges for violent assault against someone he was intimate with, according to a District Attorney spokeswoman in Denver. KOB-TV reported the existence of assault with a deadly weapon charges on Friday but did not have details.

Balderas spoke to New Mexico Political Report about what his letter to APS means.

“We’re going to provide a security assessment of their systems as it particularly relates to mitigating exposure from inherently dangerous individuals,” Balderas said. “This is a horrific breach of security and trust for the parents. At this point, we’re going to provide a security assessment.”

He also said that his office would provide personnel needed by APS to help with the security assessments to make sure someone with a criminal record like Martinez would not slip through the cracks again.

Balderas said his office has provided similar services to law enforcement and school districts around the state—but not in the same circumstances.

“We have never responded to a direct safety breach in a personnel process,” Balderas said. “We thought it would be an important step in stabilizing this district.”

Auditor responds as well

State Auditor Tim Keller’s office sent a letter to Valentino about the recent scandals.

Official photo of State Auditor Tim Keller

State Auditor Tim Keller

The Auditor’s office concentrated on the financial aspect of the initial part of the scandal, which involved Chief Financial Officer Don Moya clashing with Martinez over a proposed IT assessment.

“Our office is contacting you with respect to with respect to our financial oversight responsibilities and media reports that Chief Financial Officer Don Moya was placed on administrative leave after raising concerns about a prospective IT contract,” the letter from Deputy State Auditor Sanjay Bhakta stated. “We are writing to remind Albuquerque Public Schools of the importance of maintaining appropriate internal controls over the procurement process.”

The letter makes clear it has not reviewed any of the internal controls of APS, but only reminds APS of its responsibilities as related to the procurement process.

Both the letter from Balderas’ office and from Keller’s office are included below.

AG letter to APS

Letter to APS Superintendent from State Auditor