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Española schools superintendent resigns; district ready to move forward

Caleb James
April 21, 2017 07:08 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- After months of scandal and state-level investigations, Española Public Schools superintendent Eric Martinez has resigned.

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His departure comes at a price, but district leaders tell KOB it's the cheapest option to cut ties with the embattled leader. Martinez will be paid a year's salary to exit the district peacefully after a wave of financial mismanagement allegations and student safety concerns.

That number will release the district and Martinez of all legal responsibility. 

It's been 10 months of scandal for Martinez since he took the reins at Española Public Schools last June last year. It became a spiral since he decided to re-hire high school basketball coach Richard Martinez, himself under investigation for reportedly abusing players on his team. 

The troubles for the district's leader came to a head in November when the New Mexico Public Education Department took financial control of the district and slapped Martinez with a letter of concern, accusing him of encouraging bullying of staff and students. 

It was a saga that pitted school board members Yolanda Salazar and Ruben Archuleta against three other board members who backed Eric Martinez, but a shift in control after a recent school board election put the superintendent's final chapter at the district in motion. 

The new board is pledging to clean house, already terminating several questionable district contracts allegedly awarded in exchange for political favors. They've also negotiated an agreement for Martinez to leave. 

The agreement obtained by KOB Thursday is already signed by Martinez. The district will pay him one-year's salary: $130,000. He will be paid the remainder of this school year's salary too, officially leaving the district June 30.

Sources at the district say legal analysis indicated the district was facing potential damages of over $200,000, but Martinez agreed to part with his base salary, leaving benefits and paid sick leave behind.  

On Thursday, Archuleta, now the board president, Thursday said the decision minimized the financial exposure the district would have faced by terminating Martinez.

"It is important we work to return the community's focus to educating our students," Archuleta said. "We look forward to conducting an open and transparent search for a superintendent who will help our district excel."

Credits

Caleb James

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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