Two APS officials, 8 teachers placed on leave

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Two supervisors in addition to former state Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton are among the dozen Albuquerque Public Schools employees who have been put on paid administrative leave while the school district conducts its internal review of procurement issues raised by the Attorney General's criminal investigation into Stapleton.

The director of Career and Technical Education at APS, Stapleton joined APS in 1984 and has been with the district longer than any of the other employees.

Two other supervisors, Associate Superintendent Madelyn Serna-Marmol and Amelia Milazzo, executive director of curriculum and instruction, also were put on leave pending the APS review.

The list of those placed on leave, released to the Journal in response to a request under the Inspection of Public Records Act, also includes eight teachers.

APS has made clear that placing the employees on administrative leave was a procedural step and not an accusation of wrongdoing.

Stapleton, a Democrat who on Friday resigned from the state Legislature where she served as majority leader, is under investigation by the office of Attorney General Hector Balderas for possible racketeering, money laundering and receiving illegal kickbacks through several entities she owned or controlled. The probe focuses on Stapleton's relationship with Washington, D.C., based Robotics Management Learning Systems.

Robotics was paid more than $5 million by APS dating back to 2006 – much of it on a sole-source contract – and more than $950,000 from the company was funneled to two businesses and two nonprofits with close ties to Stapleton.

Stapleton and her attorney, Ahmad Assed, have said the allegations are without merit and have promised to fight any criminal charges and clear her name.

Robotics supplies a software system used to produce quizzes for students in APS career education programs and teacher training on the system.

The Attorney General's investigation was launched at the request of APS Superintendent Scott Elder after the district's procurement and finance department raised questions about the contract with Robotics. Elder said in a letter to Balderas that the district suspected violations of the procurement code and governmental conduct act by Stapleton.

The FBI, according to a grand jury subpoena, also is investigating the APS contract with Robotics for possible fraud of a federal grant program. IRS agents were present when investigators from the Attorney General's Office and New Mexico State Police served search warrants on Stapleton's home last week.

Associate Superintendent Serna-Marmol has been with APS since August 2017 and is paid $141,891 a year. Milazzo, executive director of curriculum and instruction, has been with the district since 2003 and her annual salary is $115,282. Stapleton has been with the district since 1984 and is paid $79,853.

The other non-teacher placed on leave was Abigail Manzanares, a CTE specialist who works for Stapleton. She has been with APS since 2005 and makes $44,457.

The rest of those placed on leave are teachers. They are vocational education teachers or otherwise connected to the use of the Robotics program.

The list includes:

1. Stapleton, Sheryl – Director Occupational Education

2. Serna-Marmol, Madelyn – Associate Superintendent

3. Milazzo, Amelia – Executive Director: Curriculum and Instruction

4. Manzanares, Abigail – Specialist for Sheryl Stapleton

5. Washington, Adolphus – Teacher, Sandia High School

6. McLeod, Scott – Teacher, West Mesa High School

7. Gonzales, Donald “Don” – Teacher, Eldorado High School

8. Quintana,Vivian – Teacher, Van Buren Middle School

9. Brown, Caia – Teacher Harrison Middle School

10. Palmer, Ryan – Teacher, Harrison Middle School

11. Campbell, Rebecca – Teacher, Harrison Middle School

12. Spencer, Curt – Teacher, Harrison Middle School

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