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Arizona Seizes Records in Probe of Polygamist Community's School

Arizona Seizes Records in Probe of Polygamist Community's School

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PHOENIX (AP) -- Authorities on Tuesday served a search warrant and seized financial records from a school district in a northern Arizona polygamist community, Attorney General Terry Goddard said.

Goddard said boxes of financial records, other documents and computers were seized as part of a 2-year-old criminal investigation into alleged financial mismanagement of the Colorado City Unified School District.

Goddard also said he has instructed his staff to prepare to ask the state Board of Education to appoint a receiver to oversee the district.

Gov. Janet Napolitano on May 9 signed into law a bill allowing the state Board of Education to put a district into receivership for financial mismanagement.

Goddard and state Superintendent of Public Instruction sought the receivership legislation, which will take effect in August, because of the Colorado City district's financial troubles.

"We drafted this legislation to ensure children receive the education they need and deserve," Goddard's statement said. "I am taking steps to make sure children do not suffer for the financial mismanagement of a school district."

Goddard spokeswoman Andrea Esquer declined to comment on the criminal investigation.

Repeated calls to the school district's office late Tuesday met with busy signals.

Colorado City is located in a remote area of northwestern Arizona north of the Grand Canyon.

The district's teachers went unpaid for two months last year because the district ran out of money. Critics blamed the district's financial problems on a bloated work force, among other things.

Colorado City and neighboring Hildale, Utah, are dominated by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The sect preaches polygamy as a central tenet.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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