Ya Know, We Want to Let This Celso Martinez Thing Go, If Only He'd Stop Lying
Really, we'd be done with Celso Martinez by now were it not for his recurring issues with the truth.
On Tuesday, four days after Unfair Park broke the news that the DISD spokesperson was in violation of the board's residency rules by living outside the district, Martinez told The Dallas Morning News that he had applied for a waiver to be exempt from the policy. And he said he had done it "before news reports made his residency status public," wrote Tawnell Hobbs.
But when we sent a public information request yesterday to find out when exactly Martinez asked for the exemption, a district lawyer wrote back, "Please note there is no record of a waiver on file."
The dissembling began last Friday. That's when Unfair Park had the story of how the associate superintendent, paid $140,000 to be the face and voice of the district, was in violation of the district's residency requirements by living in McKinney, which is approximately 500 miles outside the district. Hired by DISD in June to replace Donald Claxton, who wouldn't return a breathless phone call from Jessica Biel, Martinez had a six-month time period to move inside the district. He didn't.
At the time, we just figured this was a violation of an rather arcane policy. It's not like the address of a bureaucrat is going to affect the education of a single DISD student. So last Friday, when we had the story, we gave it the treatment it deserved -- a few paragraphs and a couple of nyah-nyah-nyahs. Martinez, acting just a little too smug about his lack of compliance, told me he was moving and that his house was on the market. So, I figured, that was the end of it. He'd be following the residency requirements any day now.
"I am selling the home in McKinney and plan to move," he wrote to me in an earlier e-mail. "Obviously, we are looking in the DISD boundaries for our next home."
On Monday, KTVT-Channel 11's Sarah Dodd followed up on our tiny item, by reporting, well, exactly the same thing we did: that Martinez was in violation of the board's residency requirements. But Dodd had something we did not: Yes, Martinez is moving, all right, but to another house in Collin County, which, last time I checked, was still well outside the district.
Now, let's back up a sec. When I talked to Martinez last Friday, I asked him if he was moving. He said yes. He also said his house was on the market. Since our entire conversation was about how he is technically in violation of DISD's residency requirements, I just assumed that when he said he was moving it was to a house inside the district, not to another one in Collin County, where he would still be in violation of the board policy. Besides, he had already e-mailed me that he was looking for a house inside the district.
Should I have asked the slippery spokesman again where he was moving? Obviously, but at the time it never crossed my mind. Actually, it would have seemed insulting to ask Martinez if he was moving within the district, as it would have implied that I can't trust him to tell me the full truth. Lesson learned. If only all DISD students got so thorough an education.
Now back to the waiver issue: On Tuesday, Martinez told The Dallas Morning News that he asked Superintendent Michael Hinojosa for an exemption to the district's residency policies "before news reports made his residency public," suggesting that he didn't need the cajoling of the press to make him comply with board policy. Well, we know the district has no waiver from him on file.
But let's say there was some sort of bureaucratic mix-up and Martinez's waiver got buried underneath a stack of credit-card receipts. Even in that scenario, Martinez's story to The News doesn't quite hold. That's because when we first asked Martinez about it, he said that he didn't apply for an exception to the residency policy.
"The policy does not cover all employees, but it does cover me," he wrote in an e-mail I saved. "Dr. Hinojosa can issue waivers, but I have not asked for one."
And we still don't know if he has, despite what he told Dallas' Only Daily. But DISD says he hasn't. That ought to be good enough.
Martinez isn't talking to Unfair Park after we questioned why he wasn't more open with us the first time we talked about this silly matter. That's not a big loss. We can't believe what he says anyway. --Matt Pulle