From AP and Staff Reports
Jay Quintana, former Robertson High School teacher and coach, is facing a dozen felony charges of criminal sexual penetration. But he still has his teaching license and has been teaching while out of jail on bond.
According to a report in the Albuquerque Journal this week, the New Mexico Public Education Department has pulled 22 teaching credentials last year — but Quintana still has his three, for coaching, administration and teaching.
PED spokesperson Beverly Friedman said the state agency is undergoing an ethics investigation on Quintana. PED’s Educator Ethics Bureau investigates complaints that can come from school districts, news reports or individuals. Proceedings can move quickly if the teacher agrees to surrender the license or if prosecutors get a conviction, but teachers can request hearings or can appeal bureau decisions.
The ethics investigation may be the least of Quintana’s worries as he awaits trial for 14 felony charges stemming for allegations that he had sex with the female student over a four-year period. He also has a charge pending in Mora County, related to the same relationship.
A 2007 law requires school districts to report, within 30 days, an educator’s termination or resignation after an allegation of ethical misconduct involving a student.
Friedman said the Las Vegas City Schools district complied with the 30-day requirement.
“This case is complicated by ongoing criminal and civil litigation,” Friedman said in an e-mail reply to the Optic’s question about why PED is taking so long in its investigation. “During the initial phases of the case, counsel for the victim would not permit the PED to interview, resulting in a significant delay in resolution.
“Under the leadership of new PED Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera, the Department is conducting a review of all divisions and bureaus including the ethics bureau. We are committed to exploring ways to expedite these investigations. The safety of the children in our schools is our number one priority.“ Friedman stated in the e-mail.
“Some investigations can take more than a year. The length of time of any case depends on many variables: 1. The availability of witnesses 2. Cooperation of law enforcement if there are criminal elements to a case. 3. Cooperation of counsel if there is pending civil litigation. 4. Volume of complaints. 5. The challenge of interviewing child witnesses which usually requires traveling to their communities to conduct the interviews. However, Secretary-designate Skandera is committed to doing everything possible to expedite PED’s investigations where possible,” Friedman wrote in the e-mail.
Friedman also said the department expects to file a proposed action within two weeks, which could put Quintana’s licenses on a path to suspension or revocation.
Meanwhile, as the Journal reported Wednesday, Quintana was hired as a substitute math teacher at a Santa Fe charter school, working there from Oct. 27 to Jan. 29 last year. Tom Clark, Quintana’s attorney, said his client resigned the post in late January and that there were no allegations of wrongdoing during his tenure there.
However, Clark declined to tell the Journal why Quintana resigned.
Last summer, the former student who alleges the sexual relationship with Quintana, settled her civil claims against Quintana for $375,000 in July. Clark has said the student was motivated by financial interest.