July 27, 2016

Charter school suspends exec accused of fraud

La Promesa Charter School in Albuquerque suspended an executive accused of fraudulently charging the school for personal services.

The Albuquerque Journal first reported the news Tuesday night that the school suspended Analee Maestas, the executive director. Maestas also is the vice president of the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education and was silent until tonight on the allegations outlined by a report by State Auditor Tim Keller last week.

Her only statement tonight, however, was to tell the Journal she took the allegations seriously and that she has an attorney.

Maestas received reimbursement from the publicly-funded charter school for an air duct cleaning that appears to have been done on her home. The receipt, the office of the State Auditor found, was altered to say the charge was for a carpet cleaning done at the school.

NM Political Report  previously reported on State Auditor Tim Keller’s report, which was based on a receipt given to the Public Education Department. PED is also investigating the reimbursement.

The owner of the carpet cleaner company confirmed the charges were for cleaning services at the residence, and not the school.

More of Maestas’ story did not hold up. She claimed that she paid out of pocket for services at the school because the school’s business officers were in attendance at a conference. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools conference took place more than a month before the cleaning took place.

Maestas provided photos of rooms in her house, saying none had carpets. When asked by investigators about other rooms in her house, she said that some, indeed, had carpets.

The carpets at the school were actually replaced in late August 2015, weeks after Maestas said the carpets were cleaned.

The company also signed a statement that the cleaning services took place at the personal residence, not the school.

PED could revoke Maestas’ teaching and administrative licenses depending on the findings of the report.

According to the Journal, the the decision by the governing council at La Promesa to suspend Maestas was unanimous.