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Lee County School Board addresses investigation on former superintendent

Kelli Stegeman

Photo: Video by fox4now.com

Lee County School Board addresses investigation on former superintendent

CREATED Sep. 13, 2013

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - The Lee County School Board is responding to an outside investigation on former superintendent Doctor Joseph Burke. 

The Florida Department of Education released those preliminary findings Thursday. 

The findings showed the school district has loose policies that allowed Dr. Burke to act in ways that sparked this investigation.
 
The state has recommended the school board now tighten up those policies to prevent issues like this in the future. 
 
"The board will come together after reviewing the initial report and will decide whether or not we will fashion a response," said Lee County School Board President Mary Fischer. 
 
Fischer says without everyone looking at the report, it's too early to know what the board will do with the findings, if anything.  
 
"Probably at the next board meeting and with the advice and support of our board attorney, Keith Martin, we'll come to some consensus," she said.
 
The four-month investigation started in April after the Lee County School Board requested it. 
 
The report addressed 3 allegations. 
 
First, it found Dr. Burke did suspend an investigation into a complaint that a top administrator, Dr. Deedara Hicks, appeared to be drunk at work in 2011. 
 
Second, it agreed that Dr. Burke moved more than $1 million in grant money to another account without board approval. 
 
But, on the third accusation, the DOE said Burke did not violate policy 
when using close to $300,000 meant for the classroom for top level administrators.
 
These allegations have been plaguing the district for more than 2 years.
 
"Do you have any initial thoughts on what came down yesterday?" asked reporter Kelli Stegeman. 
 
"No, I really don't," responded Fischer. "I think that it is what it is and we really need to move on."
 
Fischer says if the board plans to respond to the recommendations, they must do so by the first part of October.
 
Dr. Burke was also asked for his response. He stepped down from the district in June after serving less than two years on the job. 

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