PED eyes closing charter school after spending controversy

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The days may be numbered for an embattled charter school. The Public Education Department is days away from taking the first step towards closing La Promesa Early Learning Center.

KRQE News 13 first exposed the problems with the school’s director and some of its shady finances. The school was run by current APS board member Dr. Analee Maestas.

The PED points to an audit showing La Promesa’s finances are still a mess, that the school is not making the grade with its academics.

The PED will address the matter in a meeting on Friday in Santa Fe.

Maestas did not return another phone call to KRQE News 13, but she’s accused of sending a cleaning crew to her house, then changing the $340 dollar receipt to make it look like the job was done at the charter school.

The state auditor found evidence that the receipt was altered, confirming a KRQE News 13 investigation.

Other misspending was found, including $1,600 for a non-existent fence.

“The teachers are still doing what they are supposed to do,” parent Thuy Do said. “They seem genuinely concerned about our children,” she added.

But the PED noted that last year, La Promesa earned an “F” in student performance.

Angelic Ibuado, a grandparent of one student, said, “We need it. I hope they don’t close it down.”

The state took over La Promesa’s finances in August, but the state this week revealed, the financial “issues appear to be significant and point to the inability of the school to manage themselves.”

“PED believes there is adequate information to demonstrate the school has failed to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management and/or has violated provision(s) of law from which the charter school was not specifically exempted,” the agency noted in its agenda item executive summary.

Tuesday, school administration noted that students have recently been performing better in math and reading, and with the financial matters, the school has taken corrective actions on their own, including major personnel changes and hiring an experienced school business manager.

The meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday at Mabry Hall in the Jerry Apodaca Education Building at 300 Don Gaspar in Santa Fe.

The State Auditor referred the spending concerns to the District Attorney’s Office. A spokesman for the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office said this case regarding Maestas’ spending is under review for possible prosecution.

 

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