Saturday, December 23, 2017

After charter school controversy, aviation students look to bright future

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – For 17-year-old Liam Fuqua, there's no sound quite like the soft rumble of a Cessna 172.

The high school senior is barely old enough to fly it, but Fuqua is in the pilot's seat for his very first solo flight at Double Eagle Airport.

"I can only describe it as freeing," he said. "It's like the feeling of driving car for the first time in the sky. Go so much farther, see so much…it means so much to me."

It's the culmination of a long journey for Fuqua, given the situation the charter school he attends found itself in. He's a student at the Southwest Aeronautics Mathematics and Science Academy – a name that might ring a bell.

It's one of a group of schools that was part of the southwest learning centers. Its founder, David Scott Glasrud, pleaded guilty to federal theft, fraud and other charges in October, putting the future of the schools in question. 

Glasrud funneled money from the public charter schools for 15 years, which had a trickle-down effect.

"There were a lot of people that dropped, there were several years where the program was almost demolished," Fuqua said. "Since then we've actually had a lot of rocky roads with changing instructors."

For a while, the teen said, he had no idea if his hard work would pay off or if his future there was secure.

But not anymore. For Fuqua and other students, this is a story of recovery, of second chances and something else, too.  

"Within the aviation program, it's really been a story of success. In my mind, it's been a lot of learning and growing as a person and in technical skills," he said. "In flying a plane."

Now Fuqua says he's never been surer of his future. He said he owed it all to this school, and his many instructors. He's hoping to graduate with his private pilot license.

From there, he says, the possibilities are endless.

Story and video ➤

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Federal prosecutors say a former school administrator has pleaded guilty to fraud, theft and other charges stemming from schemes to defraud millions of dollars from the public charter schools he founded.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in New Mexico announced the plea of 50-year-old David Scott Glasrud on Wednesday.

Glasrud will be required to pay restitution and he could face at least four years in prison under an agreement reached with prosecutors. He has yet to be sentenced.

As head administrator for the Southwest Learning Center Schools in Albuquerque, Glasrud admitted to devising various schemes to defraud the schools.

Prosecutors say at one point he used $199,000 to pay down his personal line of credit, while $50,000 was transferred into his personal bank account. Another $4,000 was spent at a casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Story and video ➤

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