State Auditor Concerned about Southwest Learning Centers

Two charter schools under investigation failed to follow a transparent competitive bidding process when contracting with a private company

Aug. 06--ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Two Albuquerque charter schools under investigation by the FBI, "failed to follow a transparent competitive bidding process" when contracting with a private company owned by their head administrator, according to New Mexico's State Auditor.

Scott Glasrud is head administrator for all four Southwest Learning Centers schools, including Southwest Aeronautics, Mathematics, and Science Academy which houses an aviation program that is shared by Southwest Secondary Learning Center.

Meanwhile, Glasrud is also co-owner of Southwest Educational Consultants Inc., a private company, that also does business under the name Diamond Aviation, according to the State Auditor's office. Dolly Juarez, who is also an administrator at SSLC, is the other owner of the company, according to the State Auditor's office.

Since 2008, the schools paid Diamond Aviation $1.1 million for the lease of aircraft for the schools' aviation program, the State Auditor's office said it found during an investigation.

"Fundamental to these problems is the direct conflict of interest between Dr. Galsrud's personal financial interest in Diamond Aviation and his broad influential authority as Head Administrator for SSLC and SAMS," State Auditor Hector Balderas said in a letter sent to the schools' governing councils Tuesday.

"In many cases, the schools failed to follow a transparent competitive bidding process when hiring Diamond Aviation and it remains unclear what role Dr. Glasrud may have directly or indirectly played in various aspects of SSLC's and SAMS's procurement of his company," Balderas said in the letter.

Balderas said his office relayed their concerns to the FBI.

Last week, the FBI confiscated materials from Southwest Learning Centers, and an FBI spokesman confirmed there is an active investigation into the schools. No details of the investigation were released.

A call made to Glasrud today was not immediately returned. Glasrud is paid $240,635 annually in salary and retirement benefits for his work as head administrator of the four schools, according to the letter.

A call made to Southwest Learning Centers attorney, Patricia Matthews was not immediately returned.

For more on this story see tomorrow's edition.

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