- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 16, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Federal officials are reviewing allegations that the Albuquerque school district is unfairly funneling children with disabilities into the juvenile justice system, according to a letter from the U.S. Attorney’s Office to a New Mexico congresswoman.

Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General Vanita Gupta wrote to U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., last month, saying the Justice Department is looking into the accusations from a parent.

Grisham spokesman Gil Gallegos confirmed Wednesday that the congresswoman received the letter.

Investigators will examine the information provided by the parent “to determine whether a pattern or practice investigation is warranted in regards to the juvenile justice system in Albuquerque,” Gupta wrote.

Gupta said the parent also accused Albuquerque Public Schools of denying parents information about any force used against children with disabilities and of retaliating against parents for complaining.

Albuquerque Public Schools says it hasn’t received the letter and couldn’t comment on any pending litigation. However, the district points to recent court rulings in cases involving students with disabilities that were in the district’s favor.

Albuquerque police spokeswoman Celina Espinoza said she doesn’t believe the department has received notice of a federal investigation.

The letter comes just after a federal judge recently approved an agreement by the U.S. Justice Department and Albuquerque to overhaul the city’s police force.

A Justice Department report issued last year faulted Albuquerque police over excessive force and the way officers handled mentally ill suspects.

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