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Former Mesa schools chief got over $70K in severance after resigning

Ember Conley (Mesa Public Schools Photo)

PHOENIX – The former superintendent of Arizona’s public school district received severance pay of more than $70,000 when her resignation was accepted earlier this month.

Mesa Public Schools on Tuesday provided KTAR News 92.3 FM with copies of Ember Conley’s resignation letter and agreement.

The agreement said Conley would receive her contractual salary from the time the district’s governing board accepted her resignation, which turned out to be Dec. 2, through Feb. 28. The district told KTAR News the amount totaled $73,639.

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

Before her resignation, the board, somewhat mysteriously, placed Conley on nondisciplinary administrative leave Nov. 18.

A week later, ABC15 reported that the board’s former president, Ben Smith, had filed a criminal complaint with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office challenging budget decisions that gave raises to Conley’s executive team.

Conley’s resignation letter didn’t say anything about what may have been happening on the job that led to her resignation.

She cited personal issues, including the death of her father and the need to find full-time care for her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

“All these events have channeled me in a direction to embrace every moment with my sweet family and focus on my faith,” the letter said.

According to the resignation agreement, Mesa Public Schools will tell prospective future employers Conley voluntarily resigned and that the district generally doesn’t comment further on personnel matters.

Mesa Public Schools serves more than 62,000 students with about 80 campuses.

Before coming to Mesa, Conley had been superintendent of Utah’s Park City School District, which had fewer than 5,000 students.

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