The Alcalá Art School, also known as the Alberto Corazón Art School, was built on the sixth floor of the Antonio Machado Secondary School (IES) in Alcalá de Henares, the largest in the Community of Madrid, with more than 3,000 students. This school was the first vocational training centre dedicated to artistic education in the region, with an offer of “technological innovation” –according to the press release issued by the Community of Madrid– in comics, illustration, photography and graphics.

It was built between February and August 2022, a record time to demolish 1,600 square meters and rebuild this public center. In September of that year, hundreds of students began training in these disciplines.

Although the opening was announced in the Community’s official media, no relevant politician attended the inauguration. It was not Isabel Díaz Ayuso nor the Minister of Education at the time, Enrique Ossorio, replaced the following year by Emilio Viciana.

According to the documentation to which has had access, it cost 1.2 million to the Madrid public coffers. The amount, due to the magnitude of the work, forced this project to be put out to public tender, which requires the concurrence of several offers and economic controls and the Intervention, the body of economic inspectors of the Community.

However, in order to avoid this essential legal process, the work was commissioned to a single company and was paid in installments, dividing the total amount into invoices of less than 40,000 euros plus VAT.

Why this amount? Because it is the maximum amount that can be paid for public works for the contract to be considered a minor contract, according to Law 9/2017 on public sector contracts, which allows the project not to be put out to tender.

Thus, more than 20 invoices were ordered that were intended to be unrelated to each other, although they were part of the same work, and that were paid from three different public organizations: the IES Antonio Machado, the School of Art itself and the Professional Conservatory of Music. from Alcalá de Henares. None exceeds the limit of 48,400 euros, as has been able to confirm.

It is the same modus operandi as in the case of the hospital-school of the Ciudad Escolar macro-complex that the Public Prosecutor’s Office is investigating. There, invoices were cut up to pay for a 2.5 million euro project. The repeated claims for non-payment by the project’s entrepreneur triggered an investigation that the Ministry of Education has transferred to the courts. In addition, Alfonso Mateos, then deputy director general of Vocational Training Centres, was summarily dismissed, whom Education considers to be the author who gave the orders.

The two school directors who made the payments from their school accounts to build the now abandoned health school are also being investigated, despite the fact that up to 700,000 euros of public money had been paid.

“Of what remains to be paid, make invoices of up to 50,000”

In the case of the Alberto Corazón School of Art, the same system was followed. In fact, according to documents to which this medium has had access, the instructions to the businessman are clear. In an email dated 2023, regarding the amount still owed, Javier Martínez, director of Antonio Machado, conveys the orders received: “Of the little more than 100,000 euros that remain to be paid, please make invoices of up to 50,000 to the IES Antonio Machado and the rest to the School of Arts.”

Martínez has not responded to messages from and the director of the Art School, Esteban Martínez, refers to the press office of the Ministry of Education: “We have been told that for any queries we may have, we should inform them that they must be addressed there.” Does this mean that the Ministry is aware of the case and has warned the directors if journalists call? The director of the School is limited to reiterating the instruction to contact Education.

Alfonso Mateos, the deputy director dismissed in the case of the school-hospital, reappears in some communications and emails in the case of Alcalá de Henares when doubts arise with the payments between the contractor in charge of the work, the same as in the case of Ciudad Escolar, and the management of Antonio Machado.

Mateos is cited in the emails as the reference person for the directors and secretaries of the institute when there are doubts with payments or due to payment delays. Contacted twice by phone, the former deputy director refuses to make any comments to and invites a future conversation.

Where did the money come from to pay for millions in works? According to the first case revealed, investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office, of “extraordinary income” received by vocational training institutes, that is, it is not the ordinary distribution for operation. According to sources consulted, these may be extra funds distributed by the DAT (the territorial area directorates into which Madrid is divided, such as Alcalá de Henares, which is the East DAT), funds from Europe or specific projects from entrepreneurship or digitalization classrooms, for example.

The Ministry of Education does not provide information about the Ciudad Escolar case, claiming that it is being investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office. In the case of Alcalá de Henares, he has not answered where the money comes from, if there are more cases, he has opened an investigation or if he is ordering audits of the FP centers, alleging the same, although this case is not included in the file. of Ciudad Escolar’s research, to which has had access. When asked if this second case has been incorporated into the investigation, Education sources have not responded.

Expert sources also point out to that the management of the institutes handle large amounts of money (especially in large centres such as these) and have financial autonomy. Control is scarce and depends on the management itself and the school council, made up of the board, teachers, administrators, students and a representative of the city council, a council that does not usually go into the accounts in depth.

Who gave the order in this second case to split the bills or validated building in this way? Education sources do not answer. Political responsibility then lay in the hands of two heavyweights in the Ayuso Government and the PP of Madrid. On the one hand, the highest educational official at that time was the Deputy Minister of Educational Policy Rocío Albert López-Ibor, today Ayuso’s Minister of Economy. The person responsible for Education infrastructure when the work was completed and received was the Deputy Minister of Educational Organization Manuel Bautista, today mayor of Móstoles and a person very close to Díaz Ayuso.

And why was this illegal and opaque system chosen to build at least two public educational centres? Who benefited? This is another of the mysteries that has not been cleared up by the Ministry or, as yet, by the courts. Why these invoices for supposedly minor contracts are not on the Madrid Contracting Portal is another unresolved question. The Transparency Portal has also denied access to data on the distribution of funds by the DAT to each FP centre in the Community.

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