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Burke County School Board reveals why it wanted superintendent out

The Burke County School Board this week broke its silence over why it forced out a long-time superintendent. The Board's statement comes about a week after a major accrediting body blamed the board for problems that resulted in four high schools being put on probation. WFAE's Simone Orendain reports: In June, the Burke County School Board forced Superintendent David Burleson to quit and bought out the remainder of his contract. This was after a months-long battle between board members, the superintendent and the public who supported him. Five of the seven board members had been calling for Burleson's resignation, but throughout the fight, they never said why they wanted him out. This week, they released a statement to multiple media outlets. In it the board says it chose to keep silent because going public would "serve no useful purpose and out of respect for the many years Mr. Burleson had worked for the school system." The board went on to say it had concerns about Burleson's leadership, decision-making and handling of finances and the budget. The statement says Burleson failed to adequately prepare for budget shortfalls. That he did not submit to the board an updated policy manual and that he publicly and privately accused board members of certain unnamed transgressions. Numerous calls and messages to the board chair and vice chair were not returned. After 27 years as an educator and administrator in Burke County, Burleson is now a principal at North Forsyth High School in Winston-Salem. When we reached him last night he said he'd not read the statement but had heard about portions of it. Burleson says he was surprised in part because of a confidentiality agreement he signed under terms of the resignation. He says, "I felt like the spirit of their agreement is that they did not want me talking about them and that they were not going to share anything about me. I'm concerned about the professionalism of doing that and not even making me aware that they're doing it." Burleson says with the new school year, he had hoped to put this controversy behind him. Last month, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed four Burke County high schools on probation. After receiving various complaints about certain school board members, the accrediting body conducted numerous interviews and surveyed the district in early August. The agency's report slammed the board saying it was acting without a code of ethics, without a clear idea of its own mission and vision and without public input. The agency has made recommendations on 12 areas that need improvement.