Governing Board names Amy Fuller acting Scottsdale Schools superintendent

A view of Dr. Amy Fuller presenting the Coronado Success Initiative on Feb. 14. (Independent Newsmedia/Scott Bracken)

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include comments by Arizona Attorney General’s Office Spokeswoman Mia Garcia.

A Tuesday afternoon meeting stretched into a 10-hour, closed-door legal consultation where the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board discussed with its general counsel myriad issues plaguing the district.

The culmination of which, after 11 p.m. Tuesday Feb. 27, ended with Dr. Amy Fuller being named acting superintendent. The Governing Board voted 5-0 to approve the action.

Scottsdale Schools’ administration has been embattled with several public outcries regarding school construction projects, teacher employment agreements, a hired architecture firm, procurement practices, nepotism, conflicts of interest and overall lack of community trust for several months.

SUSD Superintendent Dr. Denise Birdwell was placed on paid administrative leave Feb. 21 following a public rally prior to a Feb. 13 Governing Board.

Chief Operations Officer Louis Hartwell also resigned in February, effective June 30, but has now been placed on administrative leave as well, according to a letter from the SUSD communications office.

Former school district Chief Financial Officer, Laura Smith, resigned from SUSD in January after being placed on administrative leave. On Jan. 30, Gust Rosenfeld attorney Susan Segal, told district officials that she believed Ms. Smith’s ties to Professional Group Public Consulting, Inc. were in violation of Arizona law.

Both Ms. Smith’s and Mr. Hartwell’s tenure at SUSD were at the forefront of the rally calling for new district leadership. Participants cited the need for a new superintendent, new Governing Board, and fiscal responsibility, among a bevy of other things.

The administration issues are only the most recent woes happening at Scottsdale Schools, as the district finished 2017 with an internal review and announcement of the Arizona Attorney General’s office investigation into district procurement practices.

SUSD-hired architecture firm, Hunt & Caraway Architects and its former president Brian Robichaux were among the defendants listed on the Attorney General’s civil lawsuit court filings with Scottsdale Unified School District.

The months-long series of special and executive sessions by the Governing Board have been held at Mohave District Annex, 8500 E. Jackrabbit Road.

Governing Board action

The Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board reconvened its special meeting at 11:12 p.m. after going into executive session at 1 p.m.

The board immediately moved to its action items, starting with suspending Hohokam Elementary School and Central Kitchen projects. In addition, President Barbara Perleberg moved to authorize legal counsel to explore options to terminate all contracts related with the projects.

The item passed 5-0.

Mohave District Annex is at 8500 E. Jackrabbit Road in Scottsdale. (Independent Newsmedia/Melissa Fittro)

Secondly, President Perleberg moved to consider an agreement with the Arizona Attorney General’s office regarding the civil suit brought earlier that week.

“I would like to at this time move that the district’s legal counsel proceed as directed in executive session, as it pertains to agenda item five B, relating to Attorney General case CV-2018-003-472,” Ms. Perleberg said.

The action passed 5-0.

In an email to the Independent, Scottsdale Unified School District Communications Specialist Nancy Norman said the item was not entering into an agreement with the AG’s office, but simply working towards that end.

“The GB did not approve an agreement with the AG’s office last night,” she said. “It only directed our legal counsel to continue to work with the AG toward that end.”

Arizona Attorney General’s Office Spokeswoman Mia Garcia said in a Feb. 28 email to the Independent that the alleged agreement pertains to the construction project at Cheyenne Traditional School.

“Our lawsuit asks a judge to halt the construction at Cheyenne and Hohokam. The district reached out with concerns over a graduation ceremony that is set to be held inside the gymnasium at Cheyenne. We have agreed to work with the district on that specific issue,” Ms. Garcia said in an emailed response to questions.

Next, the Governing Board named Dr. Amy Fuller as acting superintendent with a 5-0 vote.

An addendum will be added to Dr. Fuller’s current contract, Ms. Perleberg noted in her motion.

Dr. Fuller was brought on in April 2017 to be an administrator on assignment at Coronado High School at the start of the Coronado Success Initiative.

A March 2017 article in the Casa Grande Dispatch reports Dr. Fuller served the Florence Unified School District for 11 years prior to resigning on March 7, 2017.

Her time with the district included serving on the school board, as assistant superintendent and superintendent, the article states.

A letter regarding Dr. Fuller’s appointment is expected to go out to district parents and staff.

Executive session action items, including considering a number of administrative employee contracts that are subject of negotiations or in settlement discussions conducted in order to avoid or resolve litigation, were not disclosed during the meeting.

Ms. Norman says she wasn’t aware of any staff changes, besides Dr. Fuller’s appointment, nor has Dr. Birdwell’s position changed.

Northeast Valley News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be e-mailed at mfittro@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/melissafittro.

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