School Superintendent under fire, accused of wrongdoing
Board member calls for investigation, state conducts audit
Things heating up after last night's Lee County school board meeting. One board member calling for an investigation into possible wrong-doing by the Superintendent. Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason was at that meeting and has the latest. Video by fox4now.comvideo
LEE COUNTY - Things heating up after last night's Lee County school board meeting. One board member calling for an investigation into possible wrong-doing by the Superintendent. Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason was at that meeting and has the latest.
Board member Dr. Jane Kuckel dropping a bombshell, releasing results of her own investigation into Superintendent Joe Burke. Tonight it looks like the state is also investigating some of these allegations.
At last night’s board meeting, Kuckel issued an 11- page memo detailing accusations she uncovered against Superintendent Joe Burke.
Jane Kuckel: "I outlined in this document several areas that I had concern about with some data to support."
But when Kuckel asked fellow board members to approve an investigation into her allegations, some of them fired back.
Board member Thomas Scott: "It's despicable. If it wasn't so sad it would be comical."
Board member Don Armstrong: "We continue to go out on a ghost chase. We continue to go out here looking for ghosts looking for something that's not there."
But Kuckel says this is no ghost chase and after reviewing complaints and documents she determined: "There has been a trend since Dr. Burke arrived, for blatant and deliberate non-compliance with state and federal rules, regulations and statutes."
Kuckel: "I began my own inquiry into the letters and misappropriation of grant funds."
Kuckel claims the Superintendent made a “Transfer of federal and state grant funds totaling $1.6 million dollars from their designated grant accounts to a separate general fund account without board discussion or approval.”
And Kuckel claims records show Burke may have done special favors for his former colleague, Deedara Hicks.
Kuckel says in September, at the direction of the Superintendent, Hicks was awarded 75.63 hours when she transferred from Orange County. And 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."
Board member Thomas Scott had one word to describe these accusations.
Thomas Scott: "Despicable. I won't support this motion under any set of circumstances."
At the meeting, Superintendent Burke had little to say about the allegations.
Dr. Joseph Burke: " We have a lot of work to do move this district forward and to the next level and we certainly are going to focus our time and effort on that. So I hope this issue can come to a close."
The district won't be investigating Kuckel's claims because board members voted against it. The Superintendent says he requested to have the Department of Education conduct an audit into accusations that grant money was misappropriated. We'll let you know how it turns out.