Analee Maestas, who has been implicated in a $700,000 embezzlement scheme at the charter school she founded and ran, has resigned from the Albuquerque Public Schools board, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said Tuesday.
Balderas demanded on Sept. 25 that Maestas resign from the APS board, saying that the allegations against her made her unfit to be a school board member.
State Auditor Tim Keller revealed the allegations regarding Maestas and La Promesa Early Learning Center on Sept. 12. Nearly $500,000 was diverted from La Promesa into the private account of a school employee, according to Keller’s report.
The employee who received the money was the school’s assistant business manager, Julieanne Maestas, Analee Maestas’ daughter. Analee Maestas was the school’s executive director at the time of the alleged misconduct.
Here's the news release that Balderas' office issued on Tuesday:
"Today, Attorney General Hector Balderas announced that Analee Maestas resigned from her position with the Albuquerque Public School Board, effective immediately.
“On September 28, 2017, I served a legal demand, asking Board Member Maestas to resign from her position in light of ongoing investigations related to fiscal mismanagement and because all public officials in the State of New Mexico have the duty to treat their position as a public trust,” said Attorney General Balderas. “I am pleased that that she responded to our legal demand by resigning and our office will continue to use our legal resources to protect the school children of New Mexico.”
Here's the release that Keller's office issued about Maestas' resignation:
"Today, State Auditor Tim Keller responded to the resignation of Albuquerque School Board Member Analee Maestas stating:
“After these unfortunate events, Maestas’ resignation helps brings some accountability,” stated State Auditor Tim Keller. “By resigning, she is at least providing the district a chance to be represented by someone who is not connected to the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars that should have been going to our kids’ education. This is another step in the right direction to get La Promesa back on track and restore public confidence.”
"The issue was first brought to light in 2016 when the State Auditor released the results of an investigation indicating that Maestas had diverted La Promesa funds for personal use. Last month, State Auditor Tim Keller released an investigation that found hundreds of thousands of dollars were likely embezzled by Maestas’ daughter, a former Assistant Business Manager at the school."
And APS spokesperson Monica Armenta said the APS board has until Friday, Nov. 24, to appoint someone to fill the vacancy created by Maestas' resignation.
Here's the state law regarding school board vacancies:
22-5-9. Local school board vacancies.
A. A vacancy occurring in the membership of a local school board shall be filled at an open meeting, at which a quorum of the membership is present, by a majority vote of the remaining members appointing a qualified elector to fill the vacancy.
B. A qualified elector appointed to fill a vacancy occurring in the membership of a local school board shall hold that office until the next regular school district election when an election shall be held to fill the vacancy for the unexpired term.
C. If a qualified elector is not appointed to fill the vacancy within forty-five days from the date the vacancy occurred, the department shall appoint a qualified elector to fill the vacancy until the next regular school district election.
D. In the event vacancies occur in a majority of the full membership of a local school board, the department shall appoint qualified electors to fill the vacancies. Those persons appointed shall hold office until the next regular school district election when an election shall be held to fill the vacancies for the unexpired terms.
History: 1953 Comp., § 77-4-6, enacted by Laws 1967, ch. 16, § 32; 1979, ch. 335, § 4; 2015, ch. 145, § 97.