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Bureau of Indian Education Director Replaced Amid Federal Investigation

By Corey Mitchell — March 31, 2016 1 min read
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The director of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education was stripped of his duties and demoted this week after federal investigators determined he used his influence to get jobs for a relative and a woman with whom he was romantically involved.

Charles “Monty” Roessel improperly used his position to help a woman secure multiple jobs and to get the relative hired on the Navajo Nation, according to a report from the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General released Wednesday.

Roessel had led the bureau since December 2013 after serving as interim director for two years.

Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes, a deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of the Interior, will take over as the bureau’s acting director.

In light of the report, the Interior Department said it wanted to take immediate action to “address these issues responsibly.”

“In order to ensure smooth operations of the Bureau of Indian Education while these issues are being addressed, the Department immediately is detailing Mr. Roessel out of the BIE Director position, and we are taking appropriate disciplinary action against Mr. Roessel,” a statement from the Interior Department read.

Interior Department officials said Roessel will be moved into a position that “doesn’t have supervisory or hiring responsibilities.”

The BIE, which oversees more than 180 schools on or near American Indian reservations and has been plagued by rampant staff turnover and financial mismanagement for decades. The agency serves about 50,000 of the roughly 950,000 Native American students in the country.

Here’s a look at the investigative report:

BIEImproperHiring Public

Roberts Kendall BIE

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.