Report raises red flags on 4 ABQ charter schools

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – There are new reports about how the high-paid founder of a group of Albuquerque charter schools could be making extra money. Now the state auditor has released a report questioning if that man steered public funds into his own pockets.

The feds launched an investigation into these schools last week and that founder, Scott Glasrud, put himself on leave. Now, the findings of a separate investigation from the Office of the State Auditor reveal that his quarter-million dollar salary isn’t the only way he may be profiting from his schools, Southwest Learning Center and SAMS Academy.

“I’m very concerned that millions of dollars may have been steered inappropriately to a public official for their private gain,” said State Auditor Hector Balderas.

In a 24-page report released Wednesday, the Office of the State Auditor questions how the public charter schools are spending money from the state.

Glasrud’s schools, which focus on aviation, lease planes from a company Glasrud owns. The schools have paid his company more than a million dollars for the planes since 2008.

The auditors office says the schools didn’t follow a transparent bidding process and that it appears Glasrud gave his own company an unfair advantage.

“It’s very concerning to me considering all these transactions are being fueled by public dollars, and intended to benefit the student population,” Balderas said.

The report also questions why the schools lease a building on Montgomery from Glasrud’s company, while the Southwest Learning Center is on Candelaria.

In a two year period alone, the schools paid his company a quarter million dollars to lease part of the building and auditors weren’t able to determine what exactly the building is used for.

“These are still ongoing questions that we will be referring to the Public Education Department, Public Education Commission and the school boards to weigh in so they can provide additional documentation and transparency to the state of New Mexico,” Balderas said.

The report also questions Glasrud’s nearly quarter-million dollar salary and benefit package and why his contracts give him a total of 95 leave days a year which totals 19 weeks of paid vacation and unused days, up to 70, can be cashed out.

“Anytime you allow power and authority to be centrally controlled by only one individual, it’s very easy for that one individual not make decisions in truly the best interest of these public institutions,” Balderas said.

The state auditors office says it’s going to continue to monitor the schools and says it found issues that *weren’t included in the report that they forwarded to the FBI.

The FBI confirms it’s investigating the schools but won’t say why.

The schools released a statement from their lawyer saying they’re still reviewing the auditor’s report.

The Public Education Commission, which has the power to revoke the schools’ charters, would only say they’re going to talk about the findings at their next meeting.

blog comments powered by Disqus