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Complaint Filed With AG Against Mesa Public Schools

A complaint filed against Mesa Public Schools could prompt a criminal investigation of the school board's decision to place its superintendent on administrative leave.

Ben Smith, a former Mesa Public Schools board president, filed a criminal complaint with the Arizona Attorney General's Office alleging that former Superintendent Ember Conley lavished staff with bonuses "drastically higher" than amounts approved by the board.

Conley was placed on paid administrative leave on Nov. 18.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Mark Brnovitch said their office is reviewing the complaint.

In a statement posted to Mesa schools' website, officials said it's not uncommon for contracts to be adjusted after they're approved by the board. That's because contracts are often finalized before the state lawmakers adopt a budget that determines how much funding local school districts will be provided.

The Mesa Public Schools board has refused to specify why Conley was placed on administrative leave. They've only specified that the reasons are nondisciplinary.

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Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.