Attorney General reviewing embezzlement claims against Mesa Public Schools superintendent
MESA, Ariz. - Mesa Public Schools put its superintendent, Dr. Ember Conley on paid administrative leave with no explanation. Now, the state Attorney General's Office is reviewing several complaints, including one in which she is accused of embezzlement and theft.
A former board member filed a complaint against Dr. Conley, claiming she illegally padded the salaries and compensation for several people on her executive team.
"Those dollars could have gone to teachers, could've gone to custodians, bus drivers, they could've gone to the classroom," said Ben Smith, who filed a complaint against Dr. Conley.
Instead, former Mesa Public Schools board member, Ben Smith claims Dr. Conley funneled money to increase the paychecks of staff. The board approved $5,000 base salary raises for executive members, but Smith believes the employees were actually given much higher raises.
"She went rogue and approved these and somehow processed these changes without board approval and that' a major no-no," said Smith.
He says he researched records, including financial documents, and filed a formal complaint with Arizona Attorney General's Office last Friday.
"There were signs that spending that occurred in the form of an increase in pay," said Smith.
The Attorney General's Office confirmed the allegations.
"We are aware of spending and budgetary allegations involving Mesa Public Schools personnel and are analyzing specific complaints made," said the Attorney General's Office.
Earlier this month, Mesa voters approved a measure to increase Mesa Unified's existing budget override. Mesa School officials say the election had no bearing on the decision to put Dr. Conley on leave.
There will be a public meeting on Tuesday, in which the governing board is scheduled to discuss the allegations of overspending and the budget. The board will also meet in executive session to discuss Dr. Conley's contract, including her possible termination and replacement.