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Ousted Mesa superintendent tells ABC15 she is 'deeply appreciative' to the district's governing board

Posted at 5:52 PM, Dec 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-11 16:02:09-05

MESA, AZ — Former Mesa Superintendent Dr. Ember Conley tells ABC 15 she has "nothing but good, positive feelings" for the Mesa Public Schools Governing Board and that she "values the time in Mesa and the Great State of Arizona."

The statements echo remarks in Conley's resignation letter. She cites several personal losses and health challenges for her resignation, saying they've pushed her in a direction to "embrace every moment" with her family and focus on faith.

The response comes as Board President Elaine Miner shared new details on Tuesday night about the circumstances surrounding Conley's departure.

"During the last week of October some concerns regarding salaries were brought to the attention of a member of the governing board," Miner said.

The district assigned Dr. Conley to paid administrative leave on November 18 and initiated an internal audit.

"To explore, number one, any costs associated with the re-organization of the district leadership team and number two, whether compensation increases for members of the superintendent's executive team had all been approved by the board," said Miner.

Similar concerns were raised in a criminal complaint filed with the Attorney General's office by Ben Smith, the former Mesa Public Schools Governing Board president. The complaint accuses Conley of theft and embezzlement, citing administrative raises and contracts that were drastically higher than what the board previously approved.

Conley says she welcomes any investigation and says board members are fully aware of everything she did as superintendent.

She also says the feeling of not being a superintendent has been a loss, but that "Mesa is on the brink of greatness and I have to believe everything we did helped our children."

The governing board is set to review the results of that internal audit soon and will take action if needed.

Meantime, Conley will receive about $74,000 in severance pay, a far cry from the $500,000 her contract required had she been fired.