New Hanover County Schools selects interim superintendent


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The New Hanover County Board of Education has named an interim superintendent.

The school district selected Dr. Del Burns, who will take over the position on Monday.

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According to a news release, he has more than 44 years of experience in education and served previously as Wake County superintendent until retiring in June 2010.

“This will be the eighth time I’ve served as an interim superintendent,” Dr. Burns says.

Since his retirement, he has served in multiple interim superintendent roles including Alamance-Burlington, Edgecombe County, Orange County, Bertie County, Nash-Rocky Mount and Wake County schools.

“I started teaching in the Wake County Public School System in 1976 and I retired as superintendent in 2010, 34 years later,” he says.

Dr. Burns was chosen from a pool of just two candidates interviewed by the board last week.

The decision comes after former Superintendent Tim Markley resigned amid scrutiny of the handling of several sexual abuse claims within the school district, the most recent being middle school band teacher Peter Frank.

“Dealing with the particular employee misconduct matters that are present is somewhat unique in that there have been so many so recently,” Dr. Burns says.

The board worked with the North Carolina School Boards Association to find ideal candidates in a short period of time.

“I look forward to working closely with Mr. Burns over the coming months,” said Deputy Superintendent LaChawn Smith. “His depth of experience and success across North Carolina will help us as we evaluate our current policies, implement new procedures and initiatives, and work to ensure our students have a  safe learning environment and our community is informed of our progress.”

Dr. Burns says his first step will be asking questions to try and learn how things will work within the school system.

“I’ll work to develop relationships internally first,” he says. “There are a lot of great things going on in this district, and we need to identify them, continue to support them, and build on them. There are some challenges. There’s some policy decisions and some operational issues that need to be addressed.”

School board member Judy Justice, who has recently been critical of how the board and administrators have handled certain things, says she’s thrilled with the decision to hire Dr. Burns.

“This is the next necessary step to help provide stability to the district, and our Board appreciates the North Carolina School Boards Association for assisting with this process,” said Lisa Estep, Chair of the New Hanover County Board of Education. “With his vast experience, we are confident that Dr. Burns is the right choice to lead our district while the search continues for a permanent superintendent. Our goal remains making our schools safe for students, families, and staff.”

Dr. Burns will start on Monday. He will be in the Interim Superintendent role for six months before a full time superintendent is brought in.