Charter schools under investigation to start school year as scheduled

Created: 08/07/2014 6:02 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A pair of Albuquerque charter schools under investigation by the FBI will open as scheduled for the new school year.

Southwest Secondary Learning Center and Southwest Aeronautics, Mathematics and Science Academy are part of a “family” of four charter schools. All of them are administered by Scott Glasrud, who is on administrative leave pending several ongoing investigations. Glasrud is also the owner of a company that leases airplanes to one of the schools for aviation lessons.

Last week, the FBI served search warrants at the main office of Southwest Learning Centers. A state audit revealed that the school paid Glasrud more than a million dollars since 2008. Auditor Hector Balderas said his investigation found potential conflicts of interest and fraud, and possible violations of state procurement laws. The review also states there was a general lack of transparency in other areas regarding the charter schools. 

The schools’ governing council met Thursday morning, formally placing Glasrud on leave and promising to cooperate with the FBI. The flying lessons are temporarily suspended.

“We have more questions than we do answers,” said council member Kit Turpen in a statement he read at the close of the meeting. “We are troubled and deeply concerned about these unfortunate events, especially as we start the new school year. The governing councils want out students, parents, and staff to know that will work through and resolve all of these issues.”

The schools are well known for academic achievements, especially in math and science.  They are charter schools, which mean they are public schools funded with taxpayer dollars.

Glasrud makes about $240,000 a year – much more than any regular public school principal, and more than any school superintendent in the state, with the exception of Winston Brooks at APS, the largest district in New Mexico by far.

School officials plan to hire a lawyer and appoint an interim leader in the meantime.

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