MESA, Ariz. — Mesa School Superintendent Ember Conley will be paid $73,639 – about four months salary – for resigning after just 16 months on the job, under a legal settlement released Tuesday. 

School Board President Elaine Miner revealed Tuesday evening that Conley was abruptly placed on paid leave Nov. 18 after a board member got an alert about her executive team's salaries. The board then ordered a salary audit, Miner said.

"An internal audit was initiated to explore ... any costs associated with the reorganization of the district's leadership team and ... whether compensation increases for members of the superintendent's executive team had all been approved by the board," Miner said, reading from a prepared statement.

Miner said the audit was complete and the board would meet to review it.

Meantime, a spokesman for the Arizona attorney general's office told 12 News Tuesday it's continuing to investigate a citizen's allegations of theft and embezzlement against Conley. 

Former School Board President Ben Smith, who voted to hire Conley when he was on the board, filed a criminal complaint with the AG's office.

Smith said the allegations were connected to the disbursement of pay raises and bonuses for administrators.

Conley says in her resignation letter to the board that her "difficult decision to resign comes at the heels of a series of challenges my family and I have faced during the past few months." 

Under terms of the settlement, Conley's resignation will be effective Jan. 2, 2020. She will be paid and receive benefits through Feb. 28, 2020.

The board approved the resignation settlement last week by a vote of 4 to 1. Board member Kiana Sears, the lone "no" vote, said she opposed the settlement's "financial provisions." 

Under her three-year contract, Conley would have been entitled to up to $500,000 in severance if she had been fired.

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Conley led the state's largest school district, with 62,000 students. She was hired from a Utah district with 5,000 students.

Conley's brief reign ended at a special school board meeting on the morning of Nov. 18, when the board effectively ousted her.

Conley was abruptly placed on paid leave, and the board began the search for an interim superintendent.

Later that day, Mesa Public Schools issued a farewell statement saying it "appreciates the service of Dr. Conley ... and wishes her well in future endeavors."

A Mesa Public Schools spokesperson said at the time that Conley's leave wasn't disciplinary or related to any criminal matters.

Through her husband, Conley has declined requests for comment.

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