August 27, 2015

APS board kicks can down road on superintendent decision

Albuquerque Public Schools superintendent Luis Valentino. Photo courtesy APS website

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.

Albuquerque Public Schools superintendent Luis Valentino. Photo courtesy APS website

Albuquerque Public Schools superintendent Luis Valentino. Photo courtesy APS website

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. Duran noted that both Valentino and the school board “continue to act proactively in reviewing and exchanging information regarding these matters.”

The meeting is the second in a week where the board did not make a final decision. A meeting Sunday evening went until late into the night before the board decided to return on Thursday morning.

Duran promised Monday’s meeting would net “a final determination regarding this matter.”

The lack of decision was met with frustration by some members of the public who showed up to the meeting. Jacob Gil, a parent of four APS students who started an online petition demanding Valentino’s resignation, asked school board member Lorenzo Garcia if Monday’s meeting could include public comment.

“I don’t believe there will be,” Garcia said.

“Can you ask?” Gil said.

“Not right now,” Garcia replied.

Garcia later told reporters that more time will only allow his petition to get more signatures.

“As a parent, it’s like they’re not taking that seriously,” he said.

As board members fled after the meeting adjourned, none would comment on why a decision wasn’t made.

In a brief interview with reporters, Duran said he could understand why people are frustrated with the board deliberating for 10 hours on Valentino but not yet making a decision on whether to fire or keep him.

“I am hoping and sure that a decision will be made,” Duran said of the upcoming Monday meeting.

In addition to the Martinez revelations, Valentino has been criticized for his handling of Chief Financial Officer Don Moya. Moya clashed with Martinez over a possible contract for an IT assessment.

Valentino then sent a text meant for Public Education Department Secretary Hanna Skandera stating that he was “going to go after” Moya. Moya was placed on administrative leave later that day.

Moya has since filed a whistleblower suit against Valentino, APS and Skandera.

Correction: This story originally had the wrong byline, attributed to editor Matthew Reichbach. It was written by senior reporter Joey Peters.