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Albuquerque Superintendent Resigns Over Hiring of Deputy Accused of Sex Abuse

UPDATED

Luis Valentino, the superintendent of the Albuquerque School District, resigned on Monday in the wake of a controversy over his hiring of a deputy superintendent later discovered to be facing child sex abuse charges.

The resignation was announced after the school board met in closed session to deliberate over Valentino's fate, The Albuquerque Journal reported.

[UPDATE (3:09 p.m.): The Albuquerque school board released a statement later on Monday saying that the two parties had reached an agreement to part ways.  While Valentino ceases to be superintendent as of today, his resignation is effective Oct. 1, according to the district's statement.

Valentino will receive full salary and benefits through Oct. 1, and will also receive an $80,000 settlement, the board said.  The  settlement's terms must be approved by a district court judge and the state department of education.

"Dr. Valentino and the board have entered into the agreement believing it is in their respective best interests to move forward in this way," according to the joint statement. "While the board and Dr. Valentino are disappointed that the employment relationship did not work out, their agreement seeks a productive transition for all involved." ]

The board met on the issue last Thursday, but held off on making a determination. Parents had circulated a petition calling for Valentino's resignation that had garnered 2,500 signatures, according to the Associated Press.

Valentino, who was hired in April, will be replaced on an interim basis by Raquel Martinez Reedy, the district's associate superintendent for elementary education, the Journal reported.

The controversy surrounds the hiring of Jason Martinez as a deputy superintendent in the instruction and technology department. 

Martinez, who worked for 10 years in the Denver district, was hired without the required criminal background check. Local media later reported that Martinez was facing child sex abuse charges in Colorado for allegedly molesting two children, ages 8 and 13. Martinez had also been arrested in January in a domestic incident. He also was not supposed to leave the state of Colorado.

An attorney for the interim superintendent of human resources told the Albuquerque Journal that  Martinez had failed to provide fingerprints and that she had informed Valentino numerous times that Martinez's background check was incomplete.

Martinez has since resigned.

Valentino has admitted to making a mistake in the hiring process and said that he was unaware of Martinez's legal problems. 

The Albuquerque Journal has a good backgrounder on the controversy.

This is not the first time in recent years that the head of the school district has left under less-than-ideal circumstances. Albuquerque's last superintendent, Winston Brooks, resigned abruptly last year over a personnel issue, according to the Associated Press.  Before that, another superintendent, Beth Everitt, left in 2008 over allegations the she changed a student's grade. Another, Brad Allison, resigned over substance abuse allegations in 2002, according to the Associated Press. 

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