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Heads of Mesa vocational school EVIT placed on leave during investigation

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PHOENIX – The governing board of the East Valley Institute of Technology has placed three of its top officials on administrative leave while an investigation of an undisclosed nature is underway.

Superintendent Sally Downey was put on leave after a vote during a public meeting Jan. 17. There have been no details why the move was made.

The board’s vote was unanimous. Downey has led the technical and vocational district since 2000.

The board voted 7-2 on pulling Mark Yockus and Craig Pearson from their offices.

“In light of ongoing investigations and information that we have, the board feels this action is in the best interest of the school district in order to ensure full transparency with the offices of the auditor and attorney general.

“We also intend to begin an internal investigation to be conducted by the Gust Rosenfeld law firm,” the board said in a statement posted online.

Voting followed an executive session, which is closed to the public.

A special meeting to discuss the three administrators was scheduled Feb. 4.

The career-training education district based in Mesa makes it programs available to high school students in the East Valley. Participating school districts include Mesa Public, Tempe Union, Scottsdale Unified and Gilbert Public.

Tuition is free for high schoolers who want to study for culinary arts, aviation, health care and fashion design, among other subjects.

Assistant Superintendent Chad Wilson was named interim chief.

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