Burke addresses Kuckel allegations
School Board member Jane Kuckel's 11 page letter begins with accusations that School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Burke didnt do things by the book. Video by fox4now.comvideo
LEE COUNTY - School board member Jane Kuckel's 11 page letter begins with accusations that school superintendent Dr. Joseph Burke transfered 1.6 million dollars in school grant money to different accounts without school board discussion or approval. We asked Burke why.
"I dont think it was any reason for us to have board approval to move the funds," said Burke.
Two weeks before Kuckel publicly accused him of moving the funds improperly, Burke asked the state Department of Education to look into whether he did everything by the book.
"Why do you feel the need to do that after the fact," asked Fox 4 Reporter John Rupolo.
"Becasue i knew there was a question that was being raised about it," said Burke.
"If you were to do it again, would you first discuss it with the board,?" asked Fox 4 Reporter John Rupolo.
"I might have given the board a plan," said Burke.
In her letter, Kuckel also raises questions about one of Burke's big hires - Dr. Deedara Hicks. She was hired as the director of secondary operations in charge of many principals. She worked with Burke previously. Kuckel says Hicks was hired in July at a starting salary of just over 99,000 dollars per year. A few weeks later, Burke got the board's approval for a 3000 dollar raise bringing Hick's salary to just over six figures. But Kuckel says in November, Burke gave Hicks another raise bumping her up to just over 105,000 dollars, the maximum amount allowed for her position without board approval.
"What i was trying to do is to get her salary to what I said she should be making which is 105," said Burke.
"Why didn't you just give her that in the beginning?" asked Fox 4 Reporter John Rupolo.
"Because I didn't do the sheet right,' said Burke.
One of the district's top union officials says Burke's decisions dont add up.
"So this is not standard practice that occurs in the district," asked Fox 4 Reporter John Rupolo.
"No, no, bringing in someone at top scale? no,," said Bob Rushlow, Union rep for the school district.
And that's not all, Kuckel also accuses Burke of improperly transferring Hick's sick time, from her former school district to Lee County. Kuckel says in September at the direction of the Superintendent, Hicks was awarded 75.63 sick hours when she transfered from her job in Orange County. And she says in January, Dr. Hicks should have begun the month with only 16 hours but her sick leave balance sheet shows a total of 122.76 hours. Burkes is sticking by his decision.
""Its permissable for any school district to transfer accumulated sick leave time within the State of Florida from one district to another," said Burke.
FOX 4 NEWS