Complaint about Mesa schools spending filed with attorney general
PHOENIX – A criminal complaint has been filed questioning raises and other budgeting issues within Mesa Public Schools. A week ago, the district superintendent was placed on paid nondisciplinary administrative leave.
The complaint was submitted to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. Ember Conley was sidelined by the district’s governing board Nov. 18.
ABC 15 reported the document filed by the governing board’s former president, Ben Smith, pointed toward theft and embezzlement.
He told the TV station that an “internal and anonymous source” had given “information centered around $5,000 raises” for the superintendent’s executive team.
While not directly addressing the complaint’s allegations, the district said in an online post Sunday night:
“Any citizen may submit a complaint for review by the Attorney General.”
In another email issued Friday, spokeswoman Heidi Hurst said:
“Additional compensation for some district-level leadership has been a long-standing practice in Arizona school districts.
“In Mesa Public Schools, the Governing Board approved annual additional compensation for the 15 members of the Superintendent’s Executive Team on June 11, 2019.
“This annual additional compensation was also approved by the Board on June 26, 2018 and July 11, 2017. The practice of providing this additional compensation goes back more than a decade.”
When Conley was voted to be put on leave in a special meeting, board President Elaine Miner said, “As we can speak more freely, we will certainly give you as much information as we can.”
Deputy Superintendent Andi Fourlis leads the district while the search for an interim moved ahead.
Mesa Public Schools is the largest district in the state with more than 80 educational institutions.