SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico education officials say they’re demanding additional oversight of a narrow slice of federal funding Albuquerque Public Schools following a criminal probe into a former employee.

District officials reported the alleged fraud this summer, years after staff first noticed irregularities in contracts in the career and technical education department in 2018. That led to a criminal investigation regarding some $5 million in questionable contracts.

The New Mexico Public Education Department announced additional oversight on Tuesday, following the release Monday of a criminal indictment of Albuquerque’s former technical education department coordinator and state Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton.

She was fired from her job and resigned from the Legislature.

She also denied wrongdoing and said through an attorney Monday that she’ll fight the charges, which include 28 counts related to fraud, tax evasion and using her position to serve her own financial interests.

State officials say they’ll withhold around $1 million in federal funds until the district hires an ​​independent auditor, and trains staff on an improved plan to prevent waste and fraud. The district faces deadlines to meet some requirements in October.

State Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus said his department “takes seriously the recent allegations” and “is committed to working cooperatively” with Albuquerque Public Schools.

State officials say they’ll withhold around $1 million in federal funds until the district hires an ​​independent auditor, and trains staff on an improved plan to prevent waste and fraud. The district faces deadlines to meet some requirements in October.

State Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus said his department “takes seriously the recent allegations” and “is committed to working cooperatively” with Albuquerque Public Schools.


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