Education

Burns could be removed as superintendent

Posted February 23, 2010 5:19 a.m. EST
Updated February 23, 2010 12:59 p.m. EST

— The future of the Wake County's school system's outgoing superintendent is the hands of nine school board members expected to meet Tuesday following comments he made that upset some members and prompted some groups to call for his immediate removal.

In several media interviews last week, Del Burns criticized members of the new school board majority and expressed concerns about the direction of the school system under its leadership.

The majority has made several changes since its first meeting in December and wants to move away from the system's decade-old policy of bussing students for diversity reasons in exchange for neighborhood schools.

Burns, who has spent more than 30 years in the school system, announced last week that he is resigning June 30 because he does not agree with the changes and that implementing them would go against his principles and beliefs.

Several community groups have called for the board to remove Burns immediately and re-assign him within the school system until his resignation.

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

It would take five votes to remove Burns.

Even though the meeting is closed, supporters of Burns, calling themselves "Del's Army," are expected to be at the high school Tuesday afternoon.

Some board members are also coming to his defense.

"He deserves the respect that this board ought to give him,' board member Dr. Anne McLaurin said Tuesday. "I am very disappointed with the recommendation that he be dismissed early."

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

Other board members, including John Tedesco, said Burns' comments – including an accusation of "partisan political gamesmanship" – offended them and that they question whether Burns should stay on the job.

"I feel they may have been a little outside the scope of his job description," Tedesco said.

Tedesco, however, said he can't say what might happen Tuesday afternoon.

"We're looking at all the pros and cons, evaluating a lot of things," he said. "We're still waiting on our attorney to give us information on contract details and specifics that aren't outlined in the public forum."