Lee school board divided on Burke's performance

Lee school board divided on Burke's performance

By Matt Grant. CREATED Jul 3, 2012

FORT MYERS - After his first year in office, Lee County school board members are deeply divided when asked how Dr. Joseph Burke's doing.

"I'd like for that to be more unanimously on the positive side," said Burke. "And I'm going to work to do that."

The board's semi-annual evaluation grades Burke on a scale of 0-3 for seven key areas, including leadership.

Here are the averages:

  • Tom Scott: 2.9
  • Don Armstrong: 2.8
  • Mary Fischer: 2.5
  • Jeanne Dozier: 1.8
  • Jane Kuckel: 1.1

Burke's overall average was 2.4 out of 3.

The highest grades were given by Scott who called Burke an "excellent leader." The lowest marks were handed down by Kuckel who gave him a 0.5 in leadership.

"There's some differences of opinion on the board," said Burke. "And I hope to do something about those differences."

Kuckel has criticized Burke before and publicly called for him to be investigated earlier this year. In her comments, she blamed him for a lack of communication.

"Board members are not kept in the information loop," Kuckel wrote. "I frequently hear about a sense of fear and blame rather than problem solving and team building."

"I was surprised by it," said Burke in response. "Obviously, disappointed by it."

Last month, Dozier publicly praised Burke telling him: "I'm going to support you and I'm going to wish you all the best."

But in her private review Dozier gave Burke a 1.0 in leadership saying "team approach is not being used."

She told Burke he "must do a better job of communicating to board members."

In response, Armstrong called her a "hypocrite" and said she should have made those concerns public.

"Publicly she has given interviews, really nothing but supporting everything he's doing, praising him," said Armstrong, "but then behind closed doors she gives this evaluation that's very low."

Burke says he will use the board's comments to help improve his job performance and leadership.

"I think communication with the board clearly," said Burke, "is one area that I should be working on."

Dozier, Kuckel and Fischer did not immediately return calls for comment.

Read the entire evaluations

Matt Grant