Wake school board to meet about Burns' future

Posted February 19, 2010
Updated February 23, 2010

— The Wake County Board of Education will meet in a special closed session on Tuesday to discuss the future of the school system's outgoing superintendent.

The board will meet at 5 p.m. at Leesville High School in Raleigh, where a public meeting on year-round schools is planned for later in the evening.

Board member John Tedesco said Friday that it might be time to cut ties with Superintendent Del Burns, who announced Tuesday that he is resigning from his post on June 30.

Tedesco said he was shocked by the announcement and further shocked by the reason Burns gave.

Burns on Thursday criticized members of the new board majority – accusing them of "partisan political gamesmanship," and expressed concerns in several interviews reported in the media about some of the policy changes that the new board majority has made or wants to implement.

Those comments offended Tedesco and prompted him to question whether Burns should stay on the job until June 30.

"Superintendents are not permitted to be jumping into the policy debate," Tedesco said.

"If you can't do your job, what do I need you around for the next four months for?"

Keith Sutton, another member of the board, defended Burns.

"In no way was that insubordinate in any way. He was just voicing his opinions," Sutton said.

With a tough budget season looming, "we need his leadership and expertise," Sutton added.

Tedesco said he is confident that there are other administrators in the school system capable of continuing to move the school system forward while the board seeks a replacement.

Parent groups push for change

At least two local groups on Friday called the board to replace Burns immediately.

Wake Schools Community Alliance, which is a public supporter of the school board's new majority, wants the board to reassign Burns to other duties until his resignation.

"It is clear that having Dr. Burns continue to serve as superintendent of schools will only serve to delay this transformation and to prolong Dr. Burns' personal conflict with the school board agenda," Wake Schools Community Alliance said in a statement.

Among the items on the board's so-called agenda is the school system's decade-old diversity policy that buses students across the district to achieve socio-economic diversity in schools. Most board members want to end the policy and go to a community-school model.

The alliance wants the school board to appoint an acting superintendent until it can hire a new superintendent.

"Dr. Burns made it very clear that he could not support future school board directives, which will move Wake County to a community-schools model," the group said.

The local chapter of the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, which supports ending the diversity policy, has also called for Burns' removal as soon as possible.

Parent Nicole Sutton is ready for change. "If the turnover is like that and it makes a difference, then so be it," she said.

It would take five votes on the nine-member school board to oust Burns.


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  • ncsqrl Feb 22, 2010

    to yellowhat> that's the wonder of words and how they can be skewed. the media frequently says "the majority of parents ... " or "the majority of voters" (in this sense, voters = number of folks eligible to vote in the county), to imply that this current board was elected by a majority of the county population. Well, think what "garnerwolf" is pointing out is that they were voted in by a majority of (eligible county) voters that actually voted , which was only approx 10% of the eligible total. So that means only about 5% of the voters in the county voted for this board. Not too good huh? sad that more people didn't vote.

  • SME2 Feb 22, 2010

    Since he hid the SAS report from the school board and the public that showed his socio-economic diversity (race) based diversity policy was a failure, they also be able to fire him for this as well under misconduct and lying.

    Burns has firing for cause written all over him.

    The SAS report is a piece of trash....oh we did not have the actual socioeconomic data so we just substituted race. It's kind of sad given SAS's track record as a good company.

  • superman Feb 22, 2010

    Does Tedesco or any other members of the board think they can find someone working for the schools who did not support diversity? If so they have keep themselves hidden and I surely would not put them in charge if they came forward now. They have been working under false pretenses. They going to have to hire someone outside the system if they want to replace Burns.

  • superman Feb 22, 2010

    All the administrators and school officials supported "diversity"-- if not why were they hired? Now that they want community schools -- which is fine-- when they do a flip flop all the people who work for the school system should be fired and removed from their job. Anyone working there now supported diversity and cannot effectively help the School Board. Removing the supt will do little or nothing to help the board support their "new" position. The board knew that Burns supported diversity-- so what they think was going to happen with him. He was going to change his professional philosophy and opinion overnight. I dont see any wrong doing on the part of Burns so it seems they might have to buy out his contract if they want him to go. Just because he disagrees with the board I have not seen or heard of anything he has refused to do. A difference of opinion is not insuborination! I am sure Burns would take paid vacation until his resignation is effective.

  • kzimmer4 Feb 22, 2010

    As a recent graduate of the Wake County School System and the daughter of a WCPSS employee, I have witnessed the changes first hand. Personally I think Dr. Burns is in the right. The way WCPSS worked the last 10 years that i was in the system worked fine, why change something that is not broken? Personally, I agree with Dr. Burns and all that he has said about the new school board. I speak for myself as well as my family.

  • Gilgamesh 2 Feb 19, 2010

    Tedesco getting his pound of flesh

  • TomLynda Feb 19, 2010

    Del Burns has made serveral interviews in which his is critical of the way the board is moving. The WCPSS is a business in function, and if Mr. Burns cannot do his job which is to carry out what the WCPSS Board decides, then he needs to be removed from his job ASAP. There are plenty of other people within the school system that can fill in, and carry out the Boards directives until a replacement is found.

    They need to tell him this coming Tuesday that he needs to either step down now, or be fired. Choice is his. Simple as that. The voters have spoken and they want change in the WCPSS and the new Board is starting to do just that. The changes they ran on, and got voted in on.

  • Suasponte Feb 19, 2010

    Del Burns is a classic example of the social promotion he advocates. He is now refusing to do his job. Fire him for cause. He has stolen enough of our tax dollars.

  • Lovey Feb 19, 2010

    I think Mr Burns has done an excellent job. Our current school board is controversial and seems to represent only a small segment of Wake County. All of us who pay taxes should be able to have input into how 50% of our total County budget is spent. I do not want my tax money representing only the Soccer Mom/Dad segment of society. I want the schools to educate ALL THE CHILDREN of Wake county; not just the privileged.

  • rwmercer Feb 19, 2010

    If they fire Del Burns because he disagrees with them, and think that anyone who does so cannot be an effective school employee, they should fire all WCPSS employees because most of us are at least as appalled as he at the direction this board is heading.

    This is a very sad day for Wake County as the people who voted these less than wise (to put it mildly) guys onto the board will realize in the days and years to come.