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Scottsdale schools CFO resigns as district faces multiple ethics concerns

PHOENIX — The chief financial officer for a Phoenix-area school district has resigned after having been put on administrative leave due to an ongoing conflict-of-interest investigation.

According to the Scottsdale Independent, Laura Smith, the CFO for the Scottsdale Unified School District, was put on leave “pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation related to an alleged conflict of interest from May 2017.”

Laura Smith (Photo: Scottsdale Unified School District)

In a statement on Monday, Superintendent Dr. Denise Birdwell confirmed Smith’s resignation.

“This change does not impact the ongoing investigation related to Ms. Smith which will continue to conclusion,” Birdwell said. “We anticipate the governing board will receive an update on the investigation next week.

“We remain steadfast in our mission of providing the best student-focused education possible and will not waiver,” the statement read.

Birdwell outlined the “ancillary situation” to the Scottsdale Independent explaining an alleged conflict of interest, which was brought to light after the district entered into a monetary agreement with Professional Group Public Consulting, Inc.

Smith is the president and director of the financial firm.

The investigation began back in December, when attorney Susan Segal announced she was investigating the conflict, but a “series of events” that caused the community to question the ethics of its district leaders started back in 2016.

One of those events included documents that showed contracted professional Brian Robichaux had been convicted of theft in Arizona in 1998.

Robichaux was hired by the district to design elementary schools after a $229 million bond was passed. He was the former president of the Phoenix-based Hunt and Caraway Architects.

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office also has an ongoing investigation into the practices of Scottsdale Unified School District, according to the publication.

Shannon Crosier, the district’s budget manager, will be taking Smith’s spot during the investigation, Birdwell said.

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