Wake board to discuss Burns' perceived insubordination

February 23, 2010 5:20:11 AM PST
Tuesday, the Wake County School Board will address what some members perceive as insubordination by Superintendent Del Burns.The superintendent said in a suprise announcement last week that he's resigning in June. In a round of media interviews after the announcement, Burns said he's not comfortable implementing changes the new board wants to make.

The meeting will be all about when Burns should leave the school system. Some members of the new majority on the board have said that they think Burns should be removed before June because of his public comments. But a petition going around calling school board members bullies, suggests they should be the ones out of a job.

The petition is titled "Stop Wake School Board Bullies." The creator, Carol Love, is a former Wake schools parent and current taxpayer. She says she actually supports some of the policy changes suggested by the new board, but thinks the way they do business is unethical.

"It's just a mess," Love said. "I'm not even against all their policies. I'm against the way they're doing it."

She is breaking her silence in an online petition expressing a no confidence vote for several board members.

"It's not inclusive, it's not civil, and it's just, they act like bullies," Love said. "It's just wrong to treat people that way."

Andrea Gomez was the seventh person to sign the petition.

"It's really uncivil and it's just not how things should be done," she said.

Gomez says she doesn't like how the new board took over, announcing sweeping changes - she feels without listening to the public input like a bully.

Wake County School Board Member John Tedesco says call him a bully if you want, but he's going to keep fighting for change - change Burns is charged to implement - yet, has publicly said he can't.

"If he says he can't do his job, I have enough respect and consideration for him that I'd be willing to let him leave earlier if he likes," Tedesco said. "In the last five years, our graduation rates have dropped, our achievement gap has broadened, and our suspension rates have climbed and you know what. I'm going to fight to do the right thing for our community."

He points out those failures came under the leadership of Burns.

Burns told ABC11 Eyewitness News that the new board's announced intention to do away with the district's diversity policy in favor of neighborhood schools will create pockets of high poverty. But Tedesco argues that's already happening.

"This year we have 53 high poverty schools," Tedesco said. "So it's not working."

But even those who may agree say the new board may need to watch its tone.

"Their attitude seems very cynical to me and I can't trust a cynical attitude," Gomez said.

Right or wrong, there's always a better way to go about things, Love says.

Meanwhile, some people have argued the new majority was elected by less than 24,000 voters - a pretty small number in the grand scheme of things.

Tedesco argues it may have been a small number of people who put them in office but it was actually twice the number that put the previous board members in office who implemented the policies in the first place.

All the bickering has some people arguing that school board members should be elected countywide and not in small districts, since the decisions they make effect children across the county.

Tuesday's meeting will take place at Leesville Road High School at 5 p.m. before the public hearing on the school calendar takes place.

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