Parents of a student with special needs at Española Valley High School said their son was bullied and that administrators at the Española School District blocked a police investigation and prevented them from looking at records created by a private investigator.
Now, the parents, Amy and Manuel Martinez, have filed official complaints against the educator licenses of Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez, High School Principal Victoria Gonzales and Abiquiú Elementary Principal Yvette Bakken, whose son is accused of battering the Martinezes’ son.
Manuel Martinez said filing official complaints with the state Public Education Department is one way to ensure people are held responsible.
“In order to hold them accountable for the obstruction of the investigation, this is a serious enough matter to be looked into by the licensing authority,” he said.
The claim of obstruction stems from a Feb. 11 incident report written by Española Police Department Officer Danny Pacheco, where Pacheco states that Gonzales refused to give him information on the alleged bully because the Martinezes’ claims were “not founded.”
Pacheco also states he spoke to High School Security Manager Alex Rosas and asked her if there was security footage of the student being battered, to which she said there was not. He did not state in the report whether he was allowed to view security footage.
“Victoria Gonzales is identified in the report as obstructing the investigation and has condoned this injustice against our son, a student with a disability, and us as his parents,” the Martinezes wrote in their complaint.
The Martinezes also claim that Gonzales, Gutierrez and Bakken are attempting to cover up the bullying, since he is the son of a school principal.
Gutierrez mentioned the controversy surrounding the Martinezes’ son at the March 4 Española School Board meeting and said the District could not tell its side of the story because of student privacy issues.
“We don’t always get the opportunity to say our side of the story,” she said. “We did a thorough investigation.”
That investigation was conducted by a private investigator, Richard A. Martinez, who was hired by the District’s attorney to look into the alleged bullying. A letter sent by Gutierrez to the parents Jan. 12 stated that Richard Martinez’s investigation found no evidence that their son had been battered at the High School.
The parents were then prevented from accessing Richard Martinez’s investigatory documents, because District officials said they included “matters of opinion” about another student and were also protected by attorney/client privilege, since Richard Martinez was hired by District attorneys.
In a response to a records request, District Record Custodian Alexis Vigil wrote that Richard Martinez’s investigation into the bullying of the Martinez’s son was the only time he has been hired by the District in the past two-and-half years.
The Martinezes, through their attorney Diane Garrity, filed a notice of tort claim against the District Jan. 22. As of Tuesday no tort claim has been filed against the District in relation to the incident.
The Department can revoke or suspend someone’s educator license, or take other forms of disciplinary action.