Scottsdale Superintendent and top administrator fired over financial scandal

Posted at 7:55 PM, Mar 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-21 01:18:54-04

The Scottsdale Unified School District's Governing Board voted Tuesday to fire Superintendent Denise Birdwell and another top administrator in the wake of a financial conflict-of-interest scandal.

Board members met behind closed doors for 2.5 hours before announcing their decision.  

Birdwell will have 15 days to request a hearing to challenge her dismissal. The district's Chief Business and Operating Officer Louis Hartwell will have 10 days to challenge his dismissal before it takes effect. Both Birdwell and Hartwelll will remain on administrative leave until their termination.

Unless successfully challenged, the dismissals cancel the rest of Birdwell's and Hartwell's employment contracts without further payment. Birdwell, who makes $204,000 per year, was hired in 2016.

RELATED: Scottsdale parents rally over school district scandal

Parents, teachers and taxpayers called for accountability after allegations emerged that the district's chief financial officer broke conflict-of-interest rules. CFO Laura Smith resigned in January after being accused of funneling school construction funds to a business in which she has a financial interest.

Last month, the Arizona attorney general filed a lawsuit calling for a halt to two construction projects in the Scottsdale Unified School District that he says were unlawfully contracted.

Teachers are calling SUSD's board to conduct a national search to replace Birdwell.