All Martinez needed was a school employee to sponsor him.
But Duerring warned that that responsibility could be a liability for the school system.
"No one is stepping up to the plate," said Jim Withrow, the school board's legal counsel.
But then someone did. Hearing Martinez' story is all that it took.
An employee at Thursday's meeting, whom the board did not name, sent Duerring a text saying they'd gladly take on the responsibility to keep Martinez at Capital.
"When I heard that, I was like, OK, this is a miracle," Martinez said. "I wasn't even expecting an answer that day. That moment, just to have someone support me and willing to do this for me, was just amazing."
Wright, who said she's been in "protective mom mode" trying to help Martinez, said the family is thrilled to have him in their home for another year. She and her husband have four children, and Martinez fits right in.
"It's like he just belongs here. Our whole family has learned a lot about his country and his culture that you don't get when you just travel to another country. It's the day-to-day things that you learn about other people," she said. "I think people would be surprised about how easy it is to have an exchange student if you just open your eyes and hearts to what they have to offer.
"It was our first time doing it, and we'd do it all over again if they were just like Fernando," she said.
While Martinez has not decided where he'll go to college, the Wrights say the day he graduates from Capital will be bittersweet.
"I never thought I could welcome someone I didn't know into my home, but he's become like another son," she said.
Martinez will return home to Madrid this summer and come back to West Virginia in time for school to resume at Capital. The Wrights plan to vacation there this summer and meet his parents for the first time.Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.