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Former El Centro schools chief admits fraud in misuse of grants

A former school official in the Imperial Valley has pleaded guilty to fraud charges in the misuse of more than $325,000 in grant money meant to improve the teaching of science and mathematics in elementary schools.

Michael P. Klentschy, who was superintendent of the El Centro Elementary School District from 1994 to 2007, arranged to be paid $168,000 from the grants to which he was not entitled, according to federal prosecutors. He also double-billed for $60,000 in travel expenses and had two close friends hired through the grants, prosecutors said.

In one grant application, Klentschy falsified test results in an effort to show that his science teaching methods were successful, according to court documents.

Under a plea bargain revealed Monday, Klentschy has agreed to repay $325,282 to the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and the El Centro Elementary School District.

He is set to be sentenced June 25 in San Diego federal court and could face a maximum 20 years in prison.

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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

 
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