Alcorn board upholds firing of middle school principal

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

CORINTH – In a closed executive session on Tuesday, the Alcorn County Board of Education upheld the decision by Superintendent Gina Rogers Smith to fire former Alcorn Central Middle School principal Dan Burcham.
After returning to open session, board President Russ Nash read a formal statement from the board:
“After reviewing the report of the hearing officer and the record of the proceedings, the board finds and determines, as did the hearing officer, that the termination of Dan Burcham as principal of Alcorn Central Middle School by the superintendent was based upon valid educational reasons and noncompliance with school district policies because of his improper conduct toward female employees of the district and his misuse of school funds, and on motion duly made, seconded and passed unanimously, his termination is affirmed as of March 28, 2013.”
Burcham was suspended and then dismissed from his position in February after school district officials investigated complaints made against him that had not previously been publicly disclosed. He was reinstated after requesting the hearing, but remained on paid administrative leave until March 28.
Because the hearing was held in closed session and Burcham did not request it be made public, school district attorney Jimmy Price said the hearing record would remain closed as well.
Recently, however, two teachers filed a lawsuit against Burcham and district Superintendent Gina Rogers Smith.
The suit alleges Burcham “engaged in reprehensible conduct” towards the two female teachers who filed the lawsuit – Janet Walls Holley and Stephanie Leigh Eaton – as well as other employees of the school district, naming him as a defendant.
Smith also was named as a defendant with allegations that she violated the two employees’ right to free speech by ordering them to not reveal the nature of the conduct that led to their complaint.
Alcorn Central Middle School’s assistant principal, Nellie Massengill, was appointed acting principal and was later hired as principal.
lena.mitchell@journalinc.com