New Mexico School for the Arts leaders fired a teacher accused of falsifying news that the New York City Jazz Festival gave a student jazz combo some top awards in April.

The jazz instructor, Orlando Madrid, “is no longer an employee of the school effective immediately,” school spokesman Sean Johnson said in an interview with The New Mexican on Monday. He said Madrid was “terminated with cause” but said he could not provide more details because it is a personnel matter.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Madrid made up the “First Place” and “Outstanding Soloist” awards based on feedback festival judges gave about the art school’s student performance at the April festival. The newspaper reported the festival is not competitive and quoted Orlando as saying he understood that but made up the award certificates based on judges’ input. He added he believed it would help fundraising efforts to pay for the trip.

The Journal ran a story on those awards in early May. The New Mexican published a brief about them later that month.

Johnson said Madrid has worked as a teacher for the school’s jazz program for one year. He said that initiative, which started as an extracurricular offering years ago and became a regular school program last year, will continue.

Madrid did not respond to a query sent to his school e-mail address on Sunday. Efforts to reach him Monday were unsuccessful.

Since opening nearly a decade ago, the New Mexico School for the Arts has mostly avoided controversy, though in 2013, students staged a parade of protest over the ouster of a popular music educator.

The Legislature in 2008 approved the creation of the tuition-free boarding charter school for students statewide in grades 9-12 who want to hone performing and visual arts skills. Rather than enrolling students by lottery, as most charter schools in New Mexico do, the arts school accepts students based on auditions and portfolios.

The school, which serves about 220 students, opened in 2010 in the former St. Francis Cathedral School in downtown Santa Fe but plans to relocate to the Sanbusco Center in the Railyard district this summer. There it will be able to gradually expand to its charter-approved cap of some 360 students, Johnson said.

The school still intends to send its student jazz combo to play at the Chengdu International Sister Cities Youth Music Festival in China, Johnson said.

General Assignment Reporter

Robert Nott has covered education and youth issues for the Santa Fe New Mexican. He is assigned to The New Mexican's city desk where he covers a general assignment beat.