ST. JOHN, Kan. (KSNW) – On March 2 of this year, the St. John school board accepted the resignation of longtime Principal Mike Burgan.
“Very shocked, and we still don’t know why,” says Dick Smith, a retired teacher living in St. John.
Smith, like many residents in St. John, say they knew Burgan resigned but did not know the reasons why.
KSN has learned the state board of education recently found a criminal past for Burgan. It’s a criminal history that goes back nearly 30 years.
The Kansas State Board of Professional Practices issued a statement to the state board of education this year, recommending his credentials for being a school administrator not be renewed.
“Mr. Burgan has held a Kansas teaching license since 1985. In 1988, he pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent solicitation of a child and two counts of making an obscene telephone proposal,” says the statement. It goes on to say, “Over the course of the next 27 years, Mr. Burgan submitted numerous applications to KSDE where he failed to disclose the nature of his criminal past. He most recently submitted an application in December 2015. Fingerprints were required with that application and KSDE first became aware of Mr. Burgan’s past.”
USD 350 school district Superintendent Josh Meyer did respond to a KSN request for an interview with an email statement.
“I’m sure you understand that I cannot discuss specifics related to personnel matters. Mr. Burgan resigned from his position as Jr/Sr High Principal and Athletic Director on March 2, 2016. The board accepted his resignation at a special board meeting on that day. Mr. Burgan worked for the district for 17 years in that position.”
Janet Waugh, a state board of education member, says fingerprints are required now for background checks on teaches and school leaders. But that’s not always been the case.
“What we have in the state of Kansas, in 2002 we implemented finger printing for anyone who is a licensed teacher or an administrator,” said Waugh.
And in the case of Mr. Burgan, that’s where the new information on a criminal background came forward.
Waugh also says, in the case of Mr. Burgan, school teaching and leadership credentials were recommended to not be renewed in light of the new information.
Some residents in the community say they are, understandably, shocked. But, some say, they still consider Burgan a part of the community.
“We loved the guy,” said Smith. “He’d been a great principal and friend in the community. He supported everything. I have nothing negative at all to say about him.”
The state’s Professional Practices Commission findings did not list any other criminal history for Mr. Burgan since 1988.
KSN reached out to Mr. Burgan for comment, but he was not available.