Coach Richard Martinez coaching the EVHS boys at Los Alamos in January 2016. Courtesy photo
EVHS Coach Richard Martinez May Still Be Out
By Robert Naranjo
Santa Fe – With school starting just next week, the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED), on Monday, Aug. 8 released a 47-page “Notice of Contemplated Action” (NCA) that summarizes PED’s investigation into Richard Martinez, Espanola Valley’s state champion basketball coach.
Controversy arose around Martinez when a mere ten days after winning the state basketball championship earlier this year on the floor of the Pit in Albuquerque, Martinez was placed on administrative leave by then Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez. Martinez told media outlets that the suspension was due to his leading the team in prayer, but after strong community push-back on praying as a reason for the administrative leave, Gutierrez and the PED both indicated that there were allegations of something “more serious”.
Since that initial suspension Martinez was terminated by then Superintendent Gutierrez. That termination created a series of reactions, which resulted in Gutierrez resigning at the school board’s request and the eventual rehiring of Martinez by the new superintendent, Eric Martinez (no relation). See earlier story HERE and HERE
The report which was released Monday indicates that although Martinez was rehired by the Espanola school district, his future as an educator remains in doubt.
In the NCA, PED maintains that the investigation revealed enough evidence against the coach that it is moving forward with rescinding or revoking Martinez’s teaching license. The NCA alleges that Martinez was verbally abusive towards students, misappropriated funds from a fundraising drive, violated federal privacy laws at the expense of a student and told players not to talk to school administrators or he would fail them.
In July Martinez was rehired in what Martinez’s attorney Sam Bregman described as part of a settlement reached by him and the school district. The agreement Martinez made with the Espanola Schools has a provision that essentially says that if he loses his teaching license, he must resign his position.
Martinez’s attorney, Sam Bregman, reached on the morning of August 9 stated, “Of course, the allegations made against my client are false and I look forward to fighting each and every one of them and clearing his good name in the area.”
Asked about the NCA requiring Martinez to appeal or his license will be revoked with “judicial” review not an option if an appeal is not filed. Bregman said, “We will be filing all that certain paperwork to get the hearing scheduled…”
Bregman was asked to comment on why this NCA was released exactly a week before school starts. He said, “This is a Notice of Contemplated Action. I can assure you that we will continue to fight it one hundred percent and I look forward to Richard Martinez continuing to stay being the good teacher and coach that he is”
Calls placed to PED’s public information officer have not been returned as of press time.
Martinez has three weeks in which to request a formal hearing in which he can respond to the charges leveled in the NCA or his license will be automatically suspended.
Here is a “time-line” of the last six months of the Richard Martinez post state basketball title investigation.
Coach Richard Martinez Six Months Timeline Of Investigation
- * March – EVHS basketball coach Richard Martinez and his Sundevils basketball team beat a tough Capital Jaguars team, 36-34 for the NMAA Class 5A State Basketball Tournament championship at the Pit in Albuquerque in front of an estimated 13,000 fans. This was the second title in five years for Martinez at EVHS.
- * March – A day after the state title win, a “Victory Parade” and rally at Edward Medina Gymnasium is held for the coaches, team and fans. Then Espanola Public Schools (EPS) Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez, tells a large audience that she felt “lucky” to be superintendent when EVHS wins state. Coach Martinez seemingly predicts the future when he tells the audience that someday “when I’m not here,” there will still be tradition in basketball. Henry Tafoya (Henry T.) filmed part of the rally for his TV special on Coach Martinez and the EVHS Sundevils.
- *March – Gutierrez places coach Martinez on leave after a video surfaced on social media that showed the coach leading his team in the “Lord’s Prayer” before the 5A title game.
- *April – EPS Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez terminates Martinez from his teaching and coaching position, and says it’s for something “more serious” than praying and says she cannot elaborate due to personnel laws.
- *April – In a stunning and unexpected move, Gutierrez resigns hours after terminating Martinez, writing in her resignation letter that the school Board requested it. She wrote “as per your request” as the basis for her resignation, but Board president, Pablo Lujan, said that the school Board did not request that she resign.
- July – New EPS Superintendent, Eric Martinez, and Martinez’s attorney, Sam Bregman, of Albuquerque, hammer out an agreement and Richard Martinez is hired back as a teacher and coach.
- August – New Mexico Public Education (PED) on August 8, releases a 47 page “Notice of Contemplated Action” (NCA) against reinstated teacher and coach, Richard Martinez. The NCA does not use the word “expletive” when they are used in quotes in witness statements, and uses the actual profanity in the public document. PED’s public information would not respond to a question posed to him if quoted “profanity” had ever been used in a PED investigation and a subsequent NCA heretofore.
- August- Sam Bregman, Martinez’s attorney responds to the NCA.