Scottsdale school district appoints new acting superintendent
PHOENIX — A Phoenix-area school district that has been embroiled in constant shakeups since its chief financial officer resigned last month has named a new acting superintendent.
The Scottsdale Unified School District governing board appointed Dr. Amy Fuller to serve as the district’s acting superintendent on Wednesday.
The move comes a week after the board put district Superintendent Dr. Denise Birdwell on temporary paid leave due to an “ongoing personnel matter.”
Fuller will begin in her position immediately, the district announced. She will continue to serve in her previous capacity as the district administrator who oversees the Coronado Success Initiative at Coronado High School.
According to SanTanValley.com, Fuller had also served as the superintendent for the Florence Unified School District from 2013 until she resigned in March of last year.
In a statement, Fuller said she was honored to take on the new assignment.
“I look forward to working with the district’s faculty and staff as we continue our focus on our students,” she said.
“We are grateful for Dr. Fuller’s willingness to take on this role and we are confident she will serve our staff and SUSD well,” Governing Board President Barbara Perleberg said in a statement.
In addition, the governing board also voted yesterday to suspend construction at Hohokam Elementary School and halt a project that would have created a central kitchen for the district’s food services.
The board also directed its legal council to move to terminate contracts for both of the projects.
The announcement came one day after the board convened for 10 hours in an executive session on Wednesday.
“SUSD continues to work collaboratively with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to find a mutually agreeable resolution to some of the claims in a complaint filed last week in Maricopa County Superior Court and continues to cooperate with that office’s ongoing investigations of the district,” the statement continued.
Shakeups continue among Scottsdale school distinct officials
Erin Helm, a school district spokewoman, did not give a reason for putting Birdwell on paid leave last week, only saying that it was “in best interest” of the district and that “no further details can be shared at this time.”
As the district put Birdwell on leave, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a complaint in Maricopa County Superior Court asking for an injunction to stop construction work in the district that he argued was unlawfully contracted.
Brnovich stated in the documents a district committee overseeing the bidding process did not comply with state procurement laws.
He also alleged that the head of an architecture firm serving on the committee unlawfully influenced the outcome.
The district hired an outside attorney in November to investigate allegations regarding the district’s use of an architecture firm for construction projects and other issues involving conflicts of interest.
In January, Laura Smith, the chief financial officer for the district, resigned after having been put on administrative leave due to an ongoing conflict-of-interest investigation.
Smith was first put on leave after the district entered into a monetary agreement with Professional Group Public Consulting, Inc. — a financial firm of which Smith is the president and director of.
But a “series of events” have caused the community to question the ethics of its district leaders since 2016, about a year before attorney Susan Segal announced she was investigating Smith’s ties to the monetary agreement.
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 Associated Press contributed to this report.