Board accepts Albuquerque school chief's resignation

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Posted: Aug 31, 2015 2:25 PM
Board accepts Albuquerque school chief's resignation

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A board that oversees New Mexico's largest school district unanimously voted Monday to accept the resignation of its embattled superintendent, who hired an administrator charged with child sex abuse in Colorado.

The decision regarding Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Luis Valentino follows a controversy that enveloped the troubled district just two months after he took the position.

Board members voted in a special meeting that followed hours-long, closed-door sessions on the matter.

"Given the parties differing views of the current incidents and challenges in the district, and believing they have fundamental differences regarding the future of the district, an agreement has been reached which allows Dr. Valentino the ability to pursue other career interests and permits the board to hire another superintendent," the board and Valentino said in a joint statement.

Board members left without taking questions from reporters.

Under the agreement, the district will pay Valentino $80,000 within 10 days and keep him and his family on the district's health insurance plan until Oct. 31. The settlement agreement must be approved by the New Mexico Public Education Department and a district court judge.

Valentino hired Jason Martinez to head the troubled district's instruction and technology division. But the district never completed its background check on Martinez, who is charged in Colorado with felony sexual assault on a child. The case involves two children.

Martinez resigned earlier this month from his post in the Albuquerque district. Neither of the children involved in the Colorado case was connected to his employment in that state.

Valentino told reporters last week he was upset with himself for not being aware of Martinez's legal problems but had vowed to continue in his position.

Valentino was not present Monday at the board meeting and has declined interview requests from The Associated Press.

Sam Bregman, a lawyer for Karen Rudys, the district's interim assistant superintendent for human resources, said Valentino was informed multiple times about Martinez refusing to complete his background check but ignored those concerns. Valentino has denied the allegation.

Valentino became superintendent in June and hired Martinez before he took over.

Denver County Jail records show Martinez was booked last week on a no-bond hold. Authorities say he had violated the terms of an earlier bond agreement when he left the state without court permission.

Martinez appeared Thursday in Denver District Court, where Judge Brian Whitney increased his bail to $200,000 on the child sexual assault charges and separate charges of assault involving two adults. His bail previously totaled $100,000.

His attorney, Michael Meaux, has not returned phone calls for comment.

Martinez worked for Denver Public Schools for 10 years, ending in 2012. He was arrested in Denver in the sex abuse case in 2013.

In Albuquerque, some parents started circulating an online petition calling for Valentino's resignation, collecting more than 2,500 signatures.

Classes in the district started earlier this month.

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Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras.