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Mesa Public Schools superintendent resigns; interim chosen

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PHOENIX – The superintendent of Mesa Public Schools is officially out of a job, resigning three weeks after she was placed on administrative leave.

The district’s governing board voted to accept Ember Conley’s resignation during a special meeting Monday night.

The executive session was nearing the three-hour mark when board members voted 4-1 to approve the move.

Conley’s exit came after a criminal complaint filed with the state Attorney General’s Office challenged budget decisions that gave raises to the superintendent’s executive team.

The complaint was submitted by the board’s former president, Ben Smith, ABC15 reported.

The board said in a post dated Nov. 22:

“The Nov. 5, 2019, election to approve a Mesa Public Schools budget increase had no bearing on the timing of the Governing Board’s action to place Dr. Conley on administrative leave. These were two independent events.”

Conley, hired in 2018, had two years left on a contract that paid her $225,000 a year.

She led the largest school district in the state, overseeing more than 80 schools and about 62,000 students.

Conley had been superintendent of Park City School District in Utah. That district has less than 5,000 students.

Pete Lesar was named interim superintendent at the meeting. He was scheduled to begin work Tuesday.

Lesar, who retired in July, spent 32 years in the Mesa schools system, including a stint as associate superintendent.

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