The Ugly Reality of Government-School Corruption

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Analee Maestas, vice president and audit committee chair of the board of Albuquerque Public Schools, has denied submitting “a doctored receipt for $342.40 to the New Mexico Public Education Department in an attempt to get reimbursement for cleaning that took place at her home, not La Promesa Charter School, where she is executive director.”

The outcome of the scandal is anyone’s guess, and Maestas should get the same presumption of innocence that we all would in similar circumstances. But there’s no question that waste, fraud, and abuse is a severe problem in government education.

There is, literally, a book about the subject. School Corruption: Betrayal of Children and the Public Trust is worth a read for anyone working to reform primary and secondary education in America.

Written by Armand A. Fusco, Ed.D., a retired school superintendent, the book contains several anecdotes about New Mexico:

* In 1996, the business manager for Taos Municipal Schools misappropriated $11,236.

* In 1997, the contract for the business manager of Hondo Valley Public Schools was “altered to reflect a $2,524 salary increase without obtaining required approval.”

* In 1998, the state took over financial control over Santa Rosa Consolidated Schools due to a $100,000 deficit.

* In 1999, the Santa Fe Independent School District suffered the same fate.

* in 2000, a Gadsden Independent School District employee was put on leave after a “substantial sum” went missing from a fundraising event.

School Corruption was self-published — no surprise there — in 2005. It’s available from Amazon.

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2 Replies to “The Ugly Reality of Government-School Corruption”

  1. A great misconception exists about the presumption of innocence. If and when criminal charges are filed against a person, the presumption of innocence exists WITHIN the criminal case. However, OUTSIDE the criminal case, there is no presumption of innocence unless that presumption is granted by statute or contract. Egro, there is no presumption that Ms. Maestas is innocent until criminal charges are filed against her or unless some collective bargaining or employment agreement gives her that presumption.

    1. Thanks, Charles. I’m not an attorney and was not making a legal argument — more a statement about the “court of public opinion.” Should have made that clear.

      After two decades + of analyzing the behavior of politicians and bureaucrats, I’m always inclined to believe the worst about allegations of corruption. But when writing about an official who’s in hot water, whether charges have been filed or not, it’s best to be safe. Keeps the lawsuits at bay, and avoids the charge that you’ve made your mind up before all the facts have been laid out.

      Tough to say what the outcome of this scandal will be. But I wanted to make the larger point that oversight, accountability, and transparency in government schools are abysmally bad, and leave plenty of opportunities for malfeasance.

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