A longtime DeKalb County teacher may lose his job amid allegations he cursed at students, shot awkward videos of them and made inappropriate comments.
A charge letter with the allegations was sent to the Marietta home of William W. Burks, Jr. May 23. It describes several instances in which Burks allegedly ridiculed students — calling them “stupid,” using profanity and commenting on their bodies. He allegedly threw a medicine ball at a boy’s head and pestered a girl’s mother with calls at home to discuss complaints her daughter had filed against him.
School district spokeswoman Lillian Govus said Burks was not offered a contract for the next school year. But Burks, who taught physical education at Cross Keys High School, is fighting back, demanding a hearing before a tribunal.
His attorney, Quinton Washington, said students cooked up the allegations because they didn’t like Burks’ class and were trying to influence the grades he gave them. The lawyer said his client’s accusers will have to take the stand under cross-examination at a hearing next month.
The charges of incompetency, willful neglect of duties and insubordination are for the school year just ended, but school officials brought up instances dating back more than a decade to demonstrate a pattern of behavior.
The first entry in the charge letter, which was obtained by Channel 2 Action News, is for the 1996-97 school year. That’s when Burks allegedly “looked girls over” to see how “feminine” they were, asking if they shaved their legs. In 2005-06, he sent an email to a DeKalb elementary school teacher, calling her “ignorant” and “a miserable, nasty mouthed, cantankerous, old woman,” the charge letter says.
In 2004-05, he allegedly told students to bend over and grab their ankles so he could give them “a swift kick to the butt.” When one threatened to tell her mother, he allegedly replied, “I’ll kick her, too.” For that, he was given a letter of reprimand and was recommended for a day of suspension without pay.
In 2010-11 he was recommended for 15 days suspension after allegedly “grabbing and forcing” a girl into her chair. The next year he allegedly made girls feel “uncomfortable” by taking videos of them as they did push ups. He was recommended for another day of suspension that year.
Washington said Burks accepted the one-day suspension in 2004-05 but contested the others and that the district backed down.
“That charge letter was produced to let you see what the district wants you to believe happened,” he said.