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Fate of New Albuquerque Superintendent Remains Uncertain

The Albuquerque school board is still mulling whether to keep new superintendent Luis Valentino on the job just two months into his tenure following revelations that one of his hires had been arrested in 2013 on child sex abuse charges. 

The board met to consider Valentino's future on Thursday, but after more than four hours behind closed doors said that members needed more time. 

Deliberations on Valentino's fate will continue on Monday morning, according to school board president Don Duran.

Valentino was hired from the San Francisco school district in June, and has a three-year contract with the district. He is paid about $240,000 annually, and prematurely ending his contract may cost the district $720,000, according to The Associated Press.

Valentino hired Timothy Jason Martinez, a former Denver district administrator, to serve as a deputy superintendent in charge of the district's instruction and technology division.

The district did not conduct a criminal background check on Martinez before he was hired, and the Associated Press reported that he did not respond to efforts by the district's human resources office to complete the check. The district later learned that Martinez, who resigned last week, had been charged in 2013 with four counts of felony sexual assault of victims ages 8 and 13. He was also arrested this year in a domestic incident, and he was not supposed to leave the state of Colorado, according to media reports. 

The Denver school district, where Martinez worked as a principal, instructional superintendent and as deputy of academic operations in elementary education, released a statement this week saying that before Martinez was hired, the district conducted a background check and submitted fingerprints to the Colorado Department of Investigations.

Denver clarified that Martinez was fingerprinted by the Colorado Department of Education in 1998, and it also stressed that Martinez, whose first reported arrest was 2013, was not arrested while working at Denver Public Schools. His stopped working for Denver Public Schools in 2012.  

The Denver school district also said that none of the victims in the alleged crimes was connected to Martinez's work in Denver Public Schools.

Meanwhile in Albuquerque, Valentino said he was upset that he was unaware of Martinez's legal issues. He told the Albuquerque Journal earlier this week that he had made a mistake in hiring Martinez, but he also denied knowing that Martinez's background check had not been completed.

That contention contradicts statements by an attorney for the district's interim superintendent for human resources, who told the paper that the interim superintendent for human resources alerted Valentino six times that Martinez's background check had not been completed.

Martinez appeared in a Denver Court on Thursday where his bail was increased and he was ordered to wear an ankle monitor, according to the AP.

New Mexico state officials are also reviewing how Martinez was hired, and Gov. Susana Martinez has asked for an immediate review of all of the state's school districts' background check policies. 

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