LEE COUNTY, Fla.- The Lee County Teachers Union representative is speaking out about Superintendent Dr. Joseph Burke's retirement announcement.
On Monday, Dr. Burke sent a memo to staff members saying he will retire in June for family and health reasons.
Donna Mutzenard with the Lee County Teachers Union says leadership changes can create an air of uncertainty among teachers and staff members. She says, "anytime there is a change like this, it is going to throw the district into turmoil."
When she got word of Burke's retirement, she says, "I was surprised, but I wouldn't say I was shocked because of everything that's been going on, recently especially. I think he probably began feeling he didn't have the support of everyone on the school board and that's very important in his job and as he stated in his memo, family and health have to take precedent."
She adds, "it will trickle down eventually, it hasn't really trickled down yet, of course this week being spring break it is probably going to help the situation, and when they come back from spring break, we have two weeks before FCAT. It's important to people to have stability. And if we could have a superintendent that's here for even 5 years that would be wonderful because it does make a difference if your leadership is stable."
The past month has been anything but stable in the district, as allegations of misconduct surfaced against the superintendent. Those include mismanaging funds and suspending an investigation into top administrator Deedara Hicks. Dr. Burke maintains he did nothing wrong and those issues have already been resolved.
But with a year still left on his contract, the school board will now have to decide whether to appoint someone to fill the spot or start a new superintendent search.
Mutzenard says, "there's still that undercurrent going on about ok, 'What's he going to do, what kind of changes is he going to make?' We deal enough with that with our legislators."
School board members will discuss their next move at their meeting on Tuesday, April 2.
Dr. Burke will not comment on his retirement at this time.