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Audit: Salaries of Mesa Public School superintendent's staff nearly doubled

Months after the superintendent of Mesa Public Schools was placed on administrative leave and subsequently resigned, FOX 10 is getting a look at the district's audit.

Ember Conley was hired in 2018 as the superintendent, replacing Michael Cowan, who served for nearly a decade. She was placed on nondisciplinary paid administrative leave in November. No reason was ever given as to why she was placed on leave.

Not long after news of the suspension, the Arizona Attorney General's Office confirmed they were reviewing several complaints against Conley, including one in which she is accused of embezzlement and theft.

In December, Mesa's school board approved Conley's resignation in a four-to-one vote. Terms of the resignation agreement reveal that Conley, whose resignation took effect on January 2, will be paid until February 28, which will count as severance pay.

According to officials, the total amount of the severance pay is $73,639.

Prior to her tenure in Mesa, Conley served as superintendent for a school district in Park City, Utah. According to Utah NPR radio station KPCW, her resignation from the position took effect in June 2018.

Audit shows increased spending

The audit was presented on Tuesday by Interim Superintendent Pete Lesar, and it reportedly shows unapproved pay increases in the last year, ranging between $2,000 and $44,000 for eight members of the Superintendent Executive Team.

The audit highlights a pattern of spending on executives that ballooned from $1.4 million five years ago, to $2.6 million this year. The unapproved amount this year went up by over a half-million, including two new personnel.

Contracts not given the OK from the board cost a total of $270,000.