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School officials mislead public about 'alcohol' investigation

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School officials mislead public about 'alcohol' investigation

By Mike Mason. CREATED Apr 4, 2013 - UPDATED: Apr 5, 2013

 LEE COUNTY – Tonight, Fox 4 has obtained new proof that Lee County school officials knowingly tried to prevent you from learning about a controversial investigation that now has the Superintendent in the hot seat.

We have the records proving district officials admitted to conducting that investigation even though the Superintendent told the public that investigation never happened. Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason has been on this story since the beginning and has the latest.

 
For more than a year, district officials have given the media conflicting reports on whether they ever conducted an investigation into district administrator Deedara Hicks, who was accused of being drunk on the job.  
 
Fox 4 has obtained records from the district showing in the past 14 months the local media has made 9 separate requests for information about the Hicks investigation but none was ever provided.
 
Just this past January, the district spokesperson told one local station: "The district has no documents from the state pertaining to an investigation regarding Dr. Hicks."
 
But when Fox 4 first requested the Hicks investigation -- more than a year ago - in February of 2012 -- officials told us: "Any documentation concerning an investigation of Dr. Hicks is currently exempt from public disclosure as that investigation is currently ongoing." 
 
So we waited for the district to finish its investigation. But we now know the Hicks investigation was not "ongoing" at that time because Burke suspended it in January of 2012 and the district chose not to release any details.
 
The district later changed its story - telling Fox 4 they never conducted an investigation into Deedara Hicks and that raised a red flag.
 
The truth finally came out this past march when an anonymous source sent the media hundreds of pages of documents proving the state and district both investigated Hicks. Burke was then compelled to admit it.
 
Joseph Burke: "They started an investigation in January on an incident that had occurred in August."
 
And it was then Burke also admitted he did suspend the Hicks investigation.
 
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."
 
Now state officials want to know more about why Burke suspended an active investigation. They plan to investigate that issue along with allegations Burke may have misappropriated more than a million dollars in funds that were earmarked for students and classrooms.  We'll let you know how it turns out.