Chiles High School Principal Felt “Personally Targeted” by LCS Investigation

Chiles High School Principal Felt “Personally Targeted” by LCS Investigation

Chiles High School principal Joe Burgess says he “felt personally targeted” when he learned he was being investigated for the second time after he put to rest initial allegations related to the use of school funds.

In a statement provided to Tallahassee Reports, his attorney wrote that Burgess “was shocked to recently learn that he was under investigation for allegedly misdirecting Advanced Placement (AP) funds, but he was satisfied the investigation was closed when proof was provided that the payments were proper.”

However, an outside investigator was hired by Leon County Schools (LCS) to look into another issue.

The statement indicates the Chiles principal “felt personally targeted when the investigation shifted to an entirely new allegation of wrongdoing once the initial allegation was disproven.”

Burgess notified LCS he would appeal the suspension levied by Superintendent Hanna as a result of the investigation.

On Tuesday, the Leon County School Board voted to refer the “appeal submitted by Mr. Joseph Burgess of the Superintendent’s recommended two-week suspension without pay to the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings (“DOAH”).”

Tallahassee Reports has requested information related to this issue from the Leon County School Board.


Principal Burgess is extremely disappointed to learn that his request for a name-clearing hearing with the District has been denied. Principal Burgess has served our schools with distinction, as historically evidenced by the unparalleled rankings Chiles High School has achieved, as well as a proven track record under his leadership as principal at Swift Creek Middle School and Springwood Elementary. He was shocked to recently learn that he was under investigation for allegedly misdirecting Advanced Placement (AP) funds, but he was satisfied the investigation was closed when proof was provided that the payments were proper. As such, he felt personally targeted when the investigation shifted to an entirely new allegation of wrongdoing once the initial allegation was disproven.

Principal Burgess is a man of integrity. Anxious to prove his innocence, he requested a copy of the grievance procedure and a name-clearing hearing. District procedure 1470 states that, “Administrative staff shall have access to a grievance procedure.” The District’s refusal to provide a copy of the procedure, and the District’s refusal to provide a name-clearing hearing only further his belief that this action is retaliatory.  

24 Responses to "Chiles High School Principal Felt “Personally Targeted” by LCS Investigation"

  1. Alex, my memory is good. Remembering much of it, including the trip to the woods to meet a principal to “give her some campaign signs.” Oh yeah, and the campaign donations given to Pons in trade for building contracts including Art building at Killearn Elementary. Did this jog your memory?

  2. Outsidelookingin, you need glasses or memory medicine. Hanna wrote a book of lies about Pons. Hanna is a crook and sorry school administrator. Burgess is a great guy. You got that right. The FBI found that Pons or the School Board did nothing wrong.

  3. Are you sure you are not confusing the leadership of Jackie Pons with the now current Superintendent. Now there was a real slippery political rascal investigated by the FBI. Anyone who has worked with either Rocky Hanna or Joe Burgess knows that both these gentlemen are fine, upstanding leaders. I would guarantee that Rocky had no option but to suggest a suspension for Burgess, while this investigation is brought to a close. A great leader sometimes has to make tough decisions. It’s part of the job.

  4. After listening to Steve Stewart’s radio show this morning, it makes a lot more sense why Joe Burgess vehemently defended Kevin Pettis when many parents and players asked for an investigation into mistreatment of football players, financial discrepancies in the football program, and all around foul behavior by Kevin and his coaching staff. It’s sad that a seemingly good person like Joe Burgess got involved in this.
    $10,000 being paid to Kevin from AP funds, in addition to his already large salary for coaching football and sitting in his office while kids lift weights, is a crime. The duties for which he was paid AP funds were also included in his base pay. So that sounds like double dipping.
    It is refreshing to see an actual investigation into something at Chiles instead of the usual brushing under the rug that normally goes on.

  5. Instead of investigating Mr. Burgess (phenomenal principal), Rocky needs to open an investigation on the many other principals in this county. Let’s not name some of these crooked principals.

  6. @Stanley – How is this a “negative article”? The article is a series of sentences stating facts of the situation, including quotes from the accused and his legal counsel. No commentary included.

    From the previous article contained in a link in this story, LCS has no procedure to vet this type of case, and really has no choice but to refer the case to DOAH for adjudication. Cases in front of DOAH are functionally a ‘bench trial,’ with parties taking depositions, and rules of evidence and procedure. It will be interesting to see what the Administrative Law Judge issues as a Recommended Order once all the facts are on the table.

  7. Whoever said that Burgess misdirects funds from school sports is truly a heinous liar. The sports teams got to use every penny they earned with their games. I was a fine arts student and we had to fund raise everything in order to just exist while the football team got new uniforms just about every year as well as the cheerleaders. Burgess has never targeted any student. If you think your kid was targeted it’s probably because they were an ignorant little racist just like their parents!

  8. Having known Joe Burgess for over 10 years I can’t imagine anyone questioning this man’s integrity. I’m proud to be able to call him a friend.

  9. To start with… I’d like someone (TR) to ask School Board Members to produce the properly and publicly advertised, voted on, and codified documentation and/or policy that authorizes the Superintendent to utilize taxpayer funds to contract with “private” investigators to spy on – and otherwise investigate – employees of the publicly-funded Leon County School System… and under what circumstances this authorization can be utilized.

  10. I have one Chiles graduate and one currently attending. Mr. Burgess has consistently placed the physical, mental, & emotional health of his students first, and is nothing but an asset to the school. It is a shame to see his reputation called into question with little to no facts to back them up. This kind of “investigation” does little more than harm the very students that LCS are supposed to be looking out for.

  11. Any parent of a Chiles student athlete who has ever dealt with this arrogant windbag (Burgess) with respect booster finances knows full well he treats the booster budget as his own slush fund and targets the kids of those who dare question his authority. Burgess should have been the “target” of several investigations years ago.

  12. At this stage the Rocky Hanna playbook calls for anonymous accusations, innuendo and smear tactics.

    But Joe is done with him and I expect will have some damaging testimony for DOAH. He will have more than a few senior administrators/principals quietly rooting for him.

    Whatever shakes out I hate the thought of losing Joe Burgess from the school district, he will be snapped up quick. Rocky is the one that needs to go.

  13. This is in response to Hope, Rocky Hanna is driven by vendetta. He chased people out of the school system, he falsified information to the FBI, he dated teachers he supervised, all without penalty. On the record Rocky admitted he falsified information to federal authorities, yet the school board has never held him to account. For those with a memory, when Rocky was promoted out of Leon high School he cried foul, now he promoted Billy Eptene from principal to a director. Billy didn’t cry foul. Rocky put Billy in a position of elementary director… over the last number of years Billy was a high school principal. Rocky does what Rocky wants to do and no one has the backbone to stand up to him on the school board or in the community. If you stand up to him he’ll falsify information about you and if you are an employee he will run you out of the district.

  14. I will say having observed Joe Burgess as a Chiles’ parent for the last 7 years, I have never seen a principal so actively involved in all areas of a high school. His level of involvement, integrity, and devotion is beyond my expectations as a parent. He is approachable at all events and cares about the success of the students. My kids were involved in band, TV production, choir, and other areas. I hope our community will support him and clear his name. This is a time to speak up and show support.

  15. If you continue to vote for trash, you will be lead by such. VOTE OUT HANNA! Why the voters let this slide in 2020 is still a mystery.

  16. I hope people in this town know that retribution retaliation and improper direction of resources are also aimed at innocent people who tell the truth and don’t want to go along. I pray that is not what is going on here a vendetta by Rocky. Please make it stop!

  17. If Rocky was a Republican our local leftists would be squealing racism and searching the Hanna family tree for slave ownership.

  18. Rocky Hanna purposely falsified information to the FBI. He has admitted this to a board hired attorney, Hank Coxe. Why is Rocky not being investigated? Please ask each school board member for a response.

  19. Stanley, you know what Hanna has done and is doing. You were were his major cheerleader when he ran in 2016. For your efforts Hanna bought you a new car from his HaaHaa account in Vegas. When Hanna ran in 2020, did you as a black man support him or the black female that ran against him? Now are you saying that a very good black principal has to be guilty because Hanna says so.

  20. I am a parent of three former Chiles students and worked closely with Principal Burgess as the SAC Chairperson and various other volunteer positions. He is a man of integrity and he is an exemplary principal. Any time there was an issue you could expect to be listened to, to have the opportunity for discussion, and to solve the problem putting the school first. Principal Burgess has my support in his efforts to clear his good name.
    Frankly, I don’t understand why it had to come to this. Perhaps LCS needs to reevaluate how this has been handled.

  21. Joe Burgess gives his entire heart and soul to the kids at Chiles High School. We should consider ourselves lucky to have such a caring administrator at our school. I had kids involved in baseball, golf, and cheerleading and I can’t tell you the number of events he attended. He went above and beyond in every way.

    Eyebrows should be raised about why Rocky Hannah felt it necessary to pay an outside firm when Mr. Burgess was cleared in the initial investigation. In addition, why won’t the district provide the information dictated by their own policies and procedures.

    Maybe we should start an investigation into the failure of the district to follow it’s own policies.

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