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Does Hanna Skandera know that Teach for America NM billed the taxpayers twice for the same work? They got caught and had to give the money back.

Does Hanna Skandera know that Teach for America NM billed the taxpayers twice for the same work? They got caught and had to give the money back.

    Don’t all of us wish we could get paid twice for doing only one task. It wou be nice, but most of us only get paid for the work we actually do.           

     That is, unless you’re Teach for America NM. They double billed New Mexico’s taxpayers for the same work and got paid twice for work they did once. They would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for a pesky private investigator and his dogged persistence!

    In the Fall of 2009 I was brought in to do a third-party fact-finding investigation at the Gallup-McKinley County Schools. During the course of the investigation I determined that Landon Mascarenaz, the Executive Director, Teach for America-New Mexico had billed the school district for services that had already been paid to them through pass-thru-funds provided by the NM PED. 

     Double billing for the same services is a violation of the state procurement code, and may even be considered by some to be defrauding the government. 

     Mascarenaz submitted an invoice to David Johnson of the New Mexico Public Education Department on 9/15/08 in the amount of $127,500. 

     The invoice for “recruitment and selection of new teachers. Pre-service training of new teachers and Professional development of teacher corps” was broken out for “55 teachers for the 2008-2009 school year.”

    The $127,500 was then paid by NM PED to Gallup-McKinley County Schools who wrote a check to Teach for America dated 12/17/08 (Check # 228059). It should be noted that TFA did follow the state procurement code by getting a purchase order issued before submitting the invoice. 

    The legislature had authorized that money for TFA as it had in previous years, as the sole source of government funds to handle the recruitment and training of TFA teachers.

    However, on 6/2/09 Mascarenaz submitted an invoice to JoBe Thilgen, then an assistant superintendent with the Gallup-Mckinley County Schools and who Mascarenaz previously worked directly for when he was a Teach for America Teacher. The invoice was in the amount of $110,000.

    The invoice for “Pre-service training of new teachers and Professional development of teacher corps” was broken out for “55 teachers placed in Gallup-McKinley County for the 2008-2009 school year.”

    This time; however, no requisition was made or purchase order issued prior to submitting the invoice. This practice is commonly known as an after-the-fact purchase order and a definite no-no. In fact, the requisition was not issued until 6/3/09 and the purchase order was not prepared until 6/15/09.

     Gallup-McKinley paid the $110,000 by check on 7/22/09 (Check # 223809).

     This was not a mistake as Mascarenaz confirmed during my investigation that he sought additional funds for the training that had already been paid for. Ironically, some of those 55 teachers, had in fact finished their two years and already left the district.

    Governor Martinez made a big deal about not hiring companies that engage in bad conduct. Wouldn’t she agree that double billing the taxpayers for the same services is bad?

    See the documents below.

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