Education

Wake school board asked for public vote on Burns

Posted March 19, 2010

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— An attorney representing WRAL News and other Triangle media outlets sent a letter Friday to the Wake County Board of Education asking for a public vote on its recent decision to remove the school system's top administrator from office.

The school board voted in a closed session on March 9 to place Superintendent Del Burns on administrative leave, following comments he made criticizing some board members who want to change the school system's student assignment policy.

The March 19 letter, on behalf of WRAL, The News & Observer of Raleigh and WTVD-TV, to school board attorney Ann Majestic cites open meetings laws, which allow closed sessions about the qualifications or performance of public employees but requires removal of a public official be voted on in an open meeting.

"I assume there is no debate that the Board of Education has the final authority with regard to the superintendent position, and the appointment of Donna Hargens as acting superintendent leaves little question that Mr. Burns was removed," attorney Amanda Martin wrote.

State law, she wrote, makes plain that the public know how public officials vote on matters.

"It has been reported widely that the vote was 5-4 and that board members voted ‘along the same lines’ as previous votes," Martin wrote. "However, that information comes from unofficial sources, and I write to request that the Board of Education officially confirm the vote."

The school board's attorney has said only a closed-session vote was needed because Burns was not fired.

The early departure of Burns, who's resigning June 30, came after comments he made last month in which he accused some board members of "political partisan gamesmanship" when it comes to educating students.

Hargens, the system's chief academic officer, has temporarily taken over the superintendent post while the school board searches for Burns' replacement.

14 Comments

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  • Mr. Middle of the Road Mar 19, 2010

    What is Marrgotti afraid of? If he is so sure that the public is behind him, let us vote.

  • dmccall Mar 19, 2010

    Public vote? So what is it that we elect REPRESENTATIVES to do, anyway?

  • LoveMyLab Mar 19, 2010

    Since when does the media get to DICTATE what happens in government???? This has gotten out of control, and WRAL, the N&O and all the rest of the "neutral" newsreporting agencies need to remember that they're supposed to REPORT the news, not make it and twist it to suit their agendas. If there's nothing to report they need to stop trying to justify thier existance.

  • jcdavis805 Mar 19, 2010

    You are kidding, right?

  • niall Mar 19, 2010

    Seems redundant, but so be it. Buh-bye Del!

  • Wheelman Mar 19, 2010

    The board should ignore it. If the N&O and others thought they had a case they would have filed a lawsuit, not a request. The only votes that are to be open are to hire and to fire. All others are to be closed due to the laws concerning all other personnel matters. Otherwise they open themselves up to a lawsuit from Burns. Administrative leave is a type of severe repremand. It is typically used with those in authority to set aside the responsibility and the exercise of authority for that individual. It is usually followed by a firing or resignation. Which in this case has already taken place.

  • RaleighDodger Mar 19, 2010

    WRAL-TV (especially Jim Goodman) needs to report the news, not push it's own bias towards diversity in the school assignment scheme.

  • are you kidding me Mar 19, 2010

    Ok, Burns no! Write down the vote. Next issue please!

  • handbasket Mar 19, 2010

    another frivolous lawsuit

  • nittanylionfan Mar 19, 2010

    How many of you can walk into your work and say that "based upon personal and obligatory considerations, it is clear to me that I cannot, in all good conscience, continue to serve as superintendent. Therefore, out of respect for the Board, out of respect for its direction and its decisions, I provide to the Chair written notice that effective June 30, 2010, I resign my position." and still have a job that pays you?????????? PLEASE...personally....GO DEL BURNS...resign today!!!!!

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