SANTA FE – The state’s Public Education Department confirmed Thursday that it is investigating former Española Valley High School boys basketball coach Richard Martinez for “serious ethical and criminal misconduct.”
The revelation comes a day after Martinez was fired by then-Española Valley Public Schools Superintendant Bobbie Gutierrez, who herself resigned later Wednesday after a year on the job.
In another development, Española Valley athletic director Eric Vigil confirmed that head football coach Miguel Medina handed in his resignation Thursday morning.
Vigil wouldn’t elaborate on Medina’s reasons for stepping down, but the Santa Fe New Mexican tweeted a photo of Medina at Wednesday’s school board meeting holding a sign that read, “If she goes, I go!!!,” possibly showing support for Gutierrez.
PED spokesman Robert McEntyre said Thursday that the department received complaints from Española about Martinez, but didn’t say whether they were related to his coaching job or his job as a physical education teacher at Española Valley. McEntyre said he would have more details today.
“I can confirm we’re investigating,” McEntyre said. “I was told the allegations were serious enough that they’re characterized as unethical and criminal.”
In a written statement Thursday, McEntyre said the investigation is ongoing and the department may “refer any evidence to law enforcement if the claims have merit.”
School board president Pablo Lujan confirmed Thursday that Martinez was terminated from both his coaching and teaching jobs, and said Martinez can make an administrative appeal of his firing.
As for Gutierrez she wrote: “Thank you for the opportunity to serve Española Public Schools this past year. At this time, and per the Board’s request, I submit to you my letter of resignation as Superintendent of Española Public Schools effective May 6, 2016.”
Although the letter says “per the Board’s request,” Lujan said Thursday that the school board never asked for Gutierrez’s resignation, and said board members were surprised by it.
“We did not ask her to resign,” Lujan said. “We were not aware of it until last night. We were surprised by that, and it wasn’t by request.” Gutierrez couldn’t be reached for clarification Thursday.
The board voted 3-2 to accept Gutierrez’s resignation and voted 3-2 again to place her on paid leave until May 6, when her contract ends. Myra Martinez, until Wednesday an associate superintendent, was selected to be the district’s interim superintendent.
Vigil said coach Martinez had not filed an appeal as of Thursday morning, and said he doesn’t know whether Martinez plans to appeal. A person who answered a cell phone listed for Martinez hung up when a Journal reporter called. Myra Martinez wouldn’t comment Thursday, saying Martinez’s situation was a personnel matter.
Richard Martinez was put on administrative leave 10 days after leading the Sundevils to the Class 5A state championship over District 2-5A rival Capital in March.
Although administrators never said why Martinez was on leave, Martinez said it was for leading players in the Lord’s Prayer before the championship game. It’s not the first time Martinez has been under fire. He was terminated in 2012 shortly after the state tournament, but was rehired a few days later. He was suspended two years ago for allegedly bullying players, but was once again back on the job after a few days.
Medina led the Sundevils to a 9-2 mark last year and the District 2-5A championship.