Superintendent Eric Martinez speaking at the June 15 school board meeting in Espanola. Photo by Robert Naranjo/Valley Daily Post
Superintendent Eric Martinez: Educators Deserve Due Process
By ROBERT NARANJO
It was during a regularly scheduled Española School Board meeting held June 15 that board member, Reuben Archuleta, inquired about the coaching vacancies in football and basketball.
The EVHS coaching vacancies and who will fill them is a question that just about everyone associated with high school sports — from players and coaches to the fans and media, is asking. Especially following the “March Madness” that took place within the Española Public Schools, when a string of resignations and terminations struck the district, beginning with former superintendent, Bobbie Gutierrez quitting only hours after she fired state champion basketball coach, Richard Martinez.
The reason for the termination of Martinez and the School Board’s subsequent request for her resignation are not public information. However, Board President, Pablo Lujan told the media in early April that the phraseology Gutierrez used in her resignation letter, “per your request,” points directly at the board for her resignation. Lujan said that the board never asked Gutierrez to resign and were “surprised” when she did during the April board meeting in the Executive Session that lasted one and half hours. Gutierrez has yet to comment about the use of “per your request.” But a Public Education Department (PED) investigation into Coach Richard Martinez has been initiated and according to a June 21 interview with PED is still on-going.
A separate investigation into Martinez was conducted by Albuquerque-based Parkinson Resources on behalf of the Espanola school district, but Gutierrez told the media in early April that it was up to Martinez to share its contents as he had been given the results of the District’s investigation carried out by Parkinson Resources, and refused further comment on it citing personnel privacy laws.
Internet searches on Parkinson Resources revealed nothing on the company, its owners, address or a telephone number. The company was “hired by the district” to conduct the investigation and it appears that the decision to bring them in was made by Gutierrez.
The New Mexico Secretary of State (SOS), contacted by phone on June 21 did not have any record whatsoever of a company out of Albuquerque calling itself “Parkinson Resources” doing business in New Mexico. Asked if they simply did not file end of year forms, the SOS staffer said, “We do not show any record for that company and our records go back to the 1900’s.”
At the meeting, Eric Vigil, EVHS athletic director, reported to the board on the status of the search for coaches. He said that a candidate for the vacant head football coach had been interviewed and but was given a “do not hire” recommendation. That candidate’s name was not disclosed. June 26 was the deadline for new applicants for the head football coach position, he added.
Archuleta then followed up with the same question on the head basketball coach vacancy. Vigil said that it “was on hold.”
“Why is it on hold,” Archuleta asked.
“I was told to put it on hold,” Vigil responded.
“Who told you,” Archuleta asked.
Superintendent Martinez, was the answer.
Archuleta asked if that was fair, (to the other applicants and athletes), and if “we are being open about it. He went on to say that he didn’t want people to think that “…we have something to hide. I don’t think it’s fair,” he added.
Superintendent Martinez then immediately stated that when there are complaints or alleged wrongdoing leveled against an educator, there is the time-honored legal standard of due process of law in their defense.
“When there are allegations against an educator, there is no due process for coaches, but for an educator there is,” he began. “This employee (Richard Martinez) has that right,” he added. As to Archuleta’s concern about the public thinking that “we (the board) have something to hide” was directly addressed by Martinez.
“We have nothing to hide. In all fairness, we have kids in programs in football and basketball, we care about the kids,” he said.
Martinez added, “If the PED determines that the instructor violated the law and removes their license, that teacher is not allowed to teach.”
Robert McIntyre, public information officer at the PED, in an interview conducted by telephone on June 21, said that the case is still on-going and could not reveal details of the investigation. PED has investigated cases like Martinez’s before but has never, “to my knowledge” he said, investigated Martinez.