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Scottsdale school board cuts ties with former senior administrators

(Photo: Scottsdale Unified School District)

PHOENIX — A Phoenix-area school district voted last week to move forward with settlement agreements to two school officials.

The Scottsdale Independent reported that former Superintendent  Dr. Denise Birdwell and Chief Business and Operations Officer Louis Hartwell of the Scottsdale Unified School District will both receive a severance package of $150,000 and $30,000.

The dismissals came after an Arizona Attorney General investigation that found ethical problems and conflicts of interests in constructions projects and employment agreements. The district claimed that the investigation found alleged wrongdoings and that Birdwell violated multiple Governing Board and Arizona Administrative Code policies, as well as her employment contract.

Birdwell and Hartwell were originally dismissed by the governing board in March. Both are entitled to a hearing process and Hartwell had already requested one. Birdwell was expected to request one.

While the hearing was ongoing, the two would have been kept on salary with full benefits. The hearings were expected to take several months and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

By agreeing to the settlement agreements, the district resolved their issues with the former administrators.

“One thing this has shown is that we have a lot of holes, some mismanagement, some leadership issues, and as a board we need to step up and show the leadership what we need to do,” governing board member Allyson Beckham said during the meeting.

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