Watchdog says former Native American schools officials appear to violate contracting rules

A watchdog says federal officials appear to have violated ethics rules in awarding a contract to evaluate schools attended by tens of thousands of Native American students.

The report comes as President Barack Obama makes high-profile promises to fix the federally funded schools. They are among the nation's lowest performing and are mostly on remote reservations.

The Interior Department's inspector general investigation concerned an $800,000-plus contract early in Obama's term to assess the schools' management and student achievement. The main focus was Brian Drapeaux, who served as chief of staff of the department's Bureau of Indian Education when the contract was issued. He is now deputy superintendent at the Grand Canyon.

He declined to comment.