ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Jason Martinez, who resigned effective Friday as deputy superintendent of Albuquerque Public Schools, is facing charges of sexual assault on a child in Colorado, APS officials confirmed Friday night.
Martinez submitted his letter of resignation Thursday, a day after the fact that he still hadn’t completed a required background check became public. He didn’t show up for work on Friday, which was supposed to be his last day.
Martinez, who made $160,000, was handpicked as deputy by Superintendent Luis Valentino when Valentino assumed his post in June.
Court documents show that Martinez is awaiting trial in Denver on six counts of sexual assault on a child by a person of trust. At least one alleged victim in the case is a boy younger than 15.
“I was surprised to learn of these charges and certainly would never have offered Mr. Martinez employment with the district if I had known,” Valentino said in a statement Friday evening. “I regret that decision.”
Don Duran, the APS Board of Education president, said he still trusts Valentino’s leadership. He said the district’s human resources department should have completed a background check on Martinez.
“I just am baffled that employees are put in the workplace without finishing their paperwork,” Duran said. “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.”
The APS Board of Education called a Sunday meeting to discuss a limited personnel matter regarding the superintendent. Duran said Valentino’s position with the district is safe.
“He is our superintendent,” Duran said. “I have complete confidence in him. We will be reviewing with the superintendent the steps that have occurred because he is our employee.”
“It’s absolutely alarming and stunning,” Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera said in a prepared statement Friday evening. “No one facing charges for sexually assaulting a child should be hired into a position of public trust – especially one that oversees our schools.”
The president of the APS teachers union said she was speechless.
“As the spokesperson for the teachers, I have no words to express how we feel at this point,” Ellen Bernstein, Albuquerque Teachers Federation president, said in an interview. “I am hoping that we put all of this behind us and in some way we can move forward.”
It appears that at least two victims have made accusations against Martinez, according to court documents. The alleged abuse took place between May 2010 and June 2013 and a arrest warrant for Martinez was issued in July 2013.
According to court records originally obtained by NM Political Report, one child in July 2013 told police that Martinez sexually assaulted him in a shower when the child was staying at Martinez’s house the previous summer.
Another accusation involved an alleged assault on a child in a hotel room in Las Vegas, Nev.
No one answered the phone at the District Attorney’s Office in Denver on Friday night. Martinez is set for a jury trial on Oct. 9, according to a Colorado courts website.
Prior to joining APS, Martinez was the vice president of education solutions at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a publishing house that also provides educational content.
Martinez was also previously an administrator in Denver Public Schools, where he worked on instruction and technology, Valentino said.
Martinez was already under scrutiny after an exchange with Chief Financial Officer Don Moya over a possible IT contract with a Denver firm. Among other things, Moya questioned the fact that Martinez was dealing with a disgraced former colleague who had resigned from Denver Public Schools in a kickback scandal, before working for the Denver IT company.
After the blowup between Moya and Martinez, Valentino tried to send a text to Skandera saying he was going to go after Moya because he was “running roughshot.” Instead, he sent the text to Moya by mistake and it quickly became public.
The errant text triggered a chain of events that ended with Moya being put on administrative leave and Board member Steven Michael Quezada complaining in the public meeting that Valentino was trying to work with Skandera and the Public Education Department when he shouldn’t be,
contending that the department’s agenda is political.
Moya is still on leave.
Valentino took over as superintendent after Brad Winter served nearly a year in that position as interim. Winter succeeded Winston Brooks, who resigned under fire but was paid $350,000 to leave on the basis of a still-secret report commissioned by the board.
When hired, Valentino was given permission to bring in his top two executives – Martinez to head his curriculum effort and Toni Cordova as his chief of staff.
Cordova had been part of the team working for the private search firm that brought Valentino’s name to APS. He was selected from more than 50 candidates.