Yet another possible scandal involving the management of federal resources intended for American Indian school children was reported in headlines this week.
First, there was the recent story of how hundreds of Navajo spent much-needed dollars to attend an education conference in Hawaii. Elected school board members and tribal officials left teachers and students in their dust as they pounced on the tropical islands in the name of progress.
Now, two former employees, with perhaps others soon joining them, are filing lawsuits against the Bureau of Indian Education, claiming a wide variety of wrongdoings by the Shiprock education line officer, Joel Longie, and the office administration.
Longie oversees 13 Bureau of Indian Affairs schools in New Mexico, Utah and Arizona.
The two former employees, one a Farmington woman and the other a woman from Mancos, Colo., claim that more than $100,000 was spent frivolously, that there were incidents of sexual harassment, and that retaliation against employees questioning the system is commonplace.
The case, and thus the proof, is far from seeing light in a courtroom and at this point the accusations are just that, accusations.
However, both women have supporters who have voiced concern and say there could be others to join them in listing the wrongdoings.
"There exists in the Northern Navajo Agency discrimination, harassment, intimidation and threats to the adult staff along with criminal misappropriating of federally mandated funds and gross mismanagement," said Michael Gaddy, a spokesman for the former employees.
"The greatest crime is that being perpetrated on the children," he said. "Especially those with special needs."
The women paint a concerning picture in that, they say, employees fear for their jobs for speaking out about concerns, of which there are many, including the belief that federal money is not being spent for its intended purposes.
The FBI investigated, but in another puzzling development, it has turned the case over to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for an internal investigation.
Gaddy, rightly so, called that a conflict of interest. He is upset that the FBI and BIA would turn over the investigation to the agency itself that is accused of wrongdoing.
Perhaps this is why the idea of accountability regarding millions of federal dollars sent to American Indian tribes such as the Navajo is in shambles. Meanwhile, American Indian school children pay the price.
Whether it is corruption or incompetence or selfishness, case after case of such mismanagement seems to be making its way to light. Yet, the federal government seems content to hide behind its curtain of bureaucracy, and the tribal government officials involved appear as willing partners to such disgrace.
It is past time that someone show leadership and prove that the money earmarked for these children will land where it is intended. Sadly, few heroes seem willing to emerge and change anything that has worked so consistently wrong for more than 100 years.
And we wonder where the seeds of mistrust get planted.