Wake schools superintendent placed on administrative leave

Posted March 9, 2010
Updated March 10, 2010

— The Wake County school board on Tuesday evening placed Superintendent Del Burns on paid administrative leave until his resignation is effective.

The board announced the decision following a closed-session meeting. Chief Academic Officer Donna Hargens will serve as acting superintendent.

Wake school board places superintendent on leave Wake schools superintendent on leave

In several interviews last month, Burns, who announced he's resigning June 30, accused the board of "partisan political gamesmanship."

Board Chairman Ron Margiotta said Burns’ decision to speak about the board’s conduct was a “poor decision and totally inappropriate.”

Burns and newly elected school board members were at odds over the decade-old student assignment policy that requires the busing of students.

The school district assigns students so that no school has more than 40 percent of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches. Students are reassigned each year to maintain that level, as well as to fill new schools and relieve overcrowding.

Newly elected school board members have said they want to end the policy in favor of a neighborhood school model. Burns, who has spent more than 30 years in the school system, said ending the system's diversity policy would segregate rich schools and poor schools.

Several community groups called for Burns' removal after his criticism of the board's direction.

Dallas Woodhouse, director of Americans for Prosperity in North Carolina, has called on a nationwide search for a new superintendent that focuses on candidates in favor of the new board's agenda.

"North Carolina's laws leave little doubt that the superintendent, appropriately called an administrator, works for the elected school board. It says a lot that Mr. Burns cares more about socioeconomic diversity than diversity of opinion," Woodhouse said in a statement Tuesday evening.

Some board members had also expressed concern about their ability to work with Burns for the next few months, while others came to his defense.

Board member Carolyn Morrison, who has voted against a resolution to move away from the diversity policy, said she was “unspeakably sad” over the decision to place Burns on administrative leave.

“I really thought we should have made another decision,” she said.

The neighborhood schools resolution requires a second and final vote, which is expected at the next school board meeting on March 23.

Burns, who previously served as Wake schools' deputy superintendent, took over for Bill McNeal in July 2006, becoming the system's seventh superintendent.

He began his career with the Wake County school system in 1976 as a special education teacher at Root Elementary School and worked as a principal at Washington Elementary School and East Wake High School.

In 1999, he was named the school system's Principal of the Year while he was at Millbrook High School. In April 2000, Burns was named associate superintendent and was promoted to deputy superintendent in July 2006.


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  • findoutthefacts Mar 12, 2010

    And I could care less who is board certified....that does nothing to prove who is a good teacher...the only reason teachers get their certification is for higher pay!

    Also - this is not a communist country. Teachers can choose where they want to teach!

  • findoutthefacts Mar 12, 2010

    Well, elcid, you are quite the assumer arent you...but once again you are an attorney!

    I DON'T HAVE ANY KIDS! Therefore I can look at this subject objectively!

  • elcid liked Ike Mar 10, 2010

    Oh, and when you cut and paste, it's polite to attribute the source.

    For example, in the article you cited:

    you left out this part:

    "Only 3 percent of teachers at West Charlotte High [89% black] are board certified. Schools in wealthier neighborhoods have several times as many board-certified teachers."

    But it's about all the kids, not just yours, right? LOL

  • elcid liked Ike Mar 10, 2010


    You mean besides that 24% performance gap?

  • findoutthefacts Mar 10, 2010

    In the 1998-1999 school year, 30.5 percent of black students scored at or above grade level on end-of-course tests. By contrast, 70.9 percent white students met that mark.
    That same year, Chambers returned to court to defend the policies he believed were still necessary to keep Charlotte schools integrated.

    Since racially based student assignment was ended, the racial gap in academic achievement has closed some but remains large.
    In end-of-course tests for the 2008-2009 school year, nearly 65 percent of black students scored at or above grade level, compared to 89 percent of white students


  • elcid liked Ike Mar 10, 2010

    "Who's did?"

    I think you meant "whose". Are you sure you're an expert in housing?

    What does it matter whose went down and whose went up? If a large segment of the school population sees diving test scores, is the policy initiative, which is SUPPOSED to be addressing the educational needs of all kids equally, really working?

    Or is it just removing an irritant for the benefit of white parents in the suburbs at the expense of the inner city kids folks like you don't seem too concerned about?

    Surely you don't expect that to happen in Wake as well? No wait, you've already stated that neighborhoods are racially segregated in Wake, so it's likely that Wake will see the same pattern Charlotte has seen.

    You're not concerned about this?

  • zanerx Mar 10, 2010

    "He mislead the public, his reports that proved what he was doing was wrong, or not helping, and Lord knows what else. He doesn't escape future actions against him either. Now there will be an investigation to his cover ups. time4real"

    This is more ridiculous than your typical "no snow" posts ...

  • findoutthefacts Mar 10, 2010

    "Glad you asked. They went down ... :-D"

    Who's did?

  • What if_I could Mar 10, 2010

    This is a sad situation for the parents and school aged kids. The school board can say what they want, when they want and about who they want with not much consequence. Let an employee say anything deragatory and he is out the door. This is like the NAACP. DOUBLE STANDARD. My grandfather would say, "don't speak out of both side of your mouthh". Show the kids today that the school board, the community and diverse groups can work together for a common goal. The problem with our society today is everyone wants to sue over something. GET OVER IT!!!!

  • elcid liked Ike Mar 10, 2010

    "You haven't answered any that I've asked either!"

    Yes, I have. Your use of exclamation points makes me think you might need to take a break though.