CREATED Mar. 8, 2013
LEE COUNTY – Tonight, Lee County school board members reacting to the Superintendent's interview with Fox-4 after he admitted ‘on camera’ that he ordered officials to stop investigating one of his top administrators. At least one board member feels Dr. Joseph Burke broke the law and should pay the price for his actions. Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason has the latest.
Since board members voted not to look into accusations against the Superintendent, the Department of Education will likely investigate. Some hope they will finally get to the bottom of things.
Board member Jeanne Dozier has a real problem with how Superintendent Joseph Burke handled an investigation into one of his top directors, Deedara Hicks.
Jeanne Dozier: "I do not like it and I think that he handled it very inappropriately."
This past Monday, Dozier made a motion to have Burke investigated but three of her fellow board members shot it down. This all stems from an incident back in August of 2011. Several employees say Hicks came to work, apparently drunk. At one point she was discovered slumped over in her car. But Burke told us Hicks wasn't drinking, instead she was having a reaction to a previous surgery she had for a gastric bypass. After district officials began investigating Hicks, Burke ordered them to stop.
Mike Mason: "So you told them to stop."
Joseph Burke: "Yes."
Mike Mason: "And that was the end of it."
Joseph Burke: "That was the end of it."
Despite board policy, Hicks was not required to provide evidence she even had a medical condition.
Mike Mason: "But did you have proof?"
Joseph Burke: "I can't say for certain that I had documented proof at that time okay."
Mike Mason: "So you just took her word for it."
Joseph Burke: "Um, I did. I did take her word for it."
Burke says he halted the Hicks investigation because district officials failed to follow proper procedures such as notifying him they were even doing a formal investigation. Dozier says Burke is the only one who violated board policy and he should be held accountable.
Jeanne Dozier: "And I want something done about it, yes."
Jane Kuckel: "He needs to be fired and the board members that have turned a blind eye need to be held accountable too.”
Last year, former board member Jane Kuckel blew the whistle on the Hicks fiasco.
Jane Kuckel: "If there was any question about whether it was alcohol related or not a test at that point in time would have decided it.”
Both Kuckel and Dozier say they personally know of several district employees who were investigated after merely being suspected of being under the influence. They feel the Hicks case is a clear example of a double standard.
Jeanne Dozier: "Do we need to alter our policies to make sure procedures are followed? Do we need to discipline someone? Or as a result of this investigation will someone lose their job? All three of those are possible."
The Department of Education gave the district 30 days to decide whether they will investigate the Superintendent....board members voted against doing that this past Tuesday so now it's up to the state to decide how they'll proceed.