By JIM MISUNAS
A recently-adopted background check that features fingerprinting approved by the Kansas State Board of Education apparently works.
At their September 2014 meeting, the Kansas State Board of Education adopted regulation changes regarding requirements for a fingerprint based records check. These changes affected veteran educators who have never submitted fingerprints as part of any previous application for a Kansas certificate or license issued by the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE).
The Kansas State Board of Professional Practices issued a statement to the State Board of Education recommending that the credentials for longtime St. John Principal Mike Burgan being a school administrator not be renewed this spring.
The process revealed that St. John High School Principal Mike Burgan served three years of probation in lieu of a three-year jail term because of a Mitchell County conviction in 1988 at Beloit Junior High. Burgan was sentenced on eight misdeamnor counts — six charges of indecent solicitation of a child and two counts of harassment by telephone on calls made to adults.
The 1988 investigation by the Beloit police department included tracing phone calls made from the school to a victim's home, according to the police report.
The board’s recommendation was apparently based on Burgan’s failure to disclose his criminal conviction on past KSDE applications.
“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,” the statement read.
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.”
Burgan resigned his position after 17 years serving as St. John junior and senior high principal and athletic director on March 2, 2016 at a special meeting. The St. John USD 350 school board accepted the resignation. Burgan also worked at Moscow from 1992-95 and at Canton-Galva from 1995-99.
Scott Gordon, legal counsel for KSDE, indicated a conviction for misdemeanor crimes would not require Burgan to lose his teaching license 28 years ago.
“You would not have automatically lost your ability to be a teacher,” Gordon said.
But KSDE licensing language has changed to allow applications to specifically ask applicants whether they have ever been convicted of a crime associated with student-age children.
“We did not know anything about it until February of 2016 when it was brought to our attention,” Gordon said. “Since 2005, the application asks whether you have ever been convicted of a crime with a child.”
Here’s the summary of Burgan’s sentencing in 1988 from The Salina Journal:
June 7, 1988
BELOIT — A former Beloit teacher convicted of making obscene phone calls, including some to his students, was placed on three-year probation Monday from a three-year jail term.
Mike Burgan, a former physical education teacher at Beloit Junior High School, was sentenced by District Judge Richard Wahl on eight misdemeanor counts including six charges of indecent solicitation of a child and two counts of harassment by telephone. Wahl placed Burgan on probation despite opposition by the prosecutor, Mitchell County Attorney Rod Ludwig, and despite the recommendation of the probation officer who prepared a presentence investigation on the case, Ludwig said.
As a condition of probation, Burgan must continue the sexual addiction program at the Prairie View Mental Health Center in Newton. Ludwig said Burgan is working as a vocational recreation therapist for mentally retarded people in the Hutchinson area.
The charges against Burgan arose out of a two-year investigation during which the Beloit police department received 73 reports of obscene phone calls. The investigation included tracing a phone call to one of the victims and tracing phone calls made from the school. Burgan, a Moundridge native, was in his third year of teaching when he resigned after the charges were filed.