LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Lee County schools Superintendent Joseph Burke announced Monday that he will retire in June.
Burke sent a memo to school board members and then to all staff that said:
"Due to both family and personal health issues, l am planning to retire in June, 2013. After 40 years of public service, it is time for me to give much needed attention and effort to the health of my family. My one regret is that l will not be serving the Wonderful Community of Lee County. My hope is that the School Board will see an opportunity to refocus on the core mission of educating all of our students."
Burke has been under scrutiny for alleged financial misconduct, and suspending an active investigation into another top administrator. Half of the school board members believe the issues were already put to rest, though board members Jeanne Dozier and Cathleen Morgan want a formal, third party investigation. They say there is tension in the district and fear among employees to speak out against the administration.
When she received the memo from Burke, school board president Mary Fischer says, "a little bit of disappointment and a little bit of relief, I think that I've been aware that Dr. Burke has not been feeling well lately and some members of his family have been having health issues also."
She says she doesn't know if the investigation surrounding administrator Deedara Hicks contributed to Burke's decision, but she says it's been a stressful situation. "I think that kind of thing weighs on all of us and it really does detract and distract from the job we have to do."
She adds, "I understand there have been some concerns about all the investigations and everything, however I have observed on several occasions that his health has not been at it optimum."
When we contacted Burke's office today, we were told he had no comment.
Board member Don Armstrong says he is "completely disappointed" by Burke's decision and he blames two board members who continue to make "outrageous remarks trying to tear the district apart."
Board member Cathleen Morgan says Dr. Burke is doing the right thing for himself and his family. She says she is confident in the leadership at the school level.