School library still named after convicted felon

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — Almost six years after Manny Aragon admitted to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars as a state senator, his name still adorns the library at an Albuquerque public school.

That has some people ticked off, wondering what kind of message that sends to the kids and their parents.

Former State Sen. Manny Aragon pled guilty in 2008 to helping skim more than $4 million during the construction of Albuquerque’s Metro Courthouse.

Aragon pocketed more than $600,000 himself.

By now, Aragon has been convicted, imprisoned and even released, yet his name still sits prominently on the J.R. Lowell Elementary School library just south of UNM’s football stadium as he finishes his sentence at his South Valley home.

A man KRQE News 13 believes was the former senator, came to the door when a reporter stopped by Monday, only to quickly slam it shut.

Residents near the school are disappointed.

“It is a bad influence for children,” said neighbor Isabel Cabrera. “It’s an embarrassment to our community, to our neighborhood, and it’s just been an issue of just delay and delay.”

The school board told KRQE News 13 more than a year ago that they would look into it.

“At that point, given that there wasn’t a huge movement within the school community, nothing happened,” said APS Board President Marty Esquivel.

He agreed with upset neighbors that the library should not be named after a convicted felon and, again, the school board said they would look into it, going to the principal and parents for feedback.

“Maybe even if the school community isn’t upset about it, I think the board needs to take a look at it,” Esquivel said.

APS said its policy allows the school board to consider a name change if most of its members feel there is a “compelling reason to do so.”

“I think it should happen,” Esquivel said. “I can’t speak for the six other board members and how they feel.”

Neighbors said they will believe it when they see it.

“That would be a positive, but I would have to wait and see because it has taken so many years to take any kind of action on this issue,” Cabrera said.

The library was named after Aragon four years before his conviction to recognize his work securing state dollars to build it.

Six months after his guilty plea, officials decided to remove Aragon’s name from the Torreón in 2009 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

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