Dubuque school board votes to fire accused principal

DUBUQUE - The Dubuque Community School Board voted early Saturday to fire an elementary school principal accused of hiding a camera in a boys' restroom at the school and downloading child pornography.

The board voted 6-0 at the emergency meeting to fire Sageville Elementary School Principal Robert Burke.

Superintendent Larie Godinez recommended firing Burke after what she said was his admission of guilt to investigators.

'Mr. Burke had admitted he had knowingly been downloading child pornography using the Internet and peer-to-peer file sharing,' Godinez said.

Burke, 43, pleaded not guilty Friday in federal court in Cedar Rapids to one count of receiving child pornography, which carries a mandatory minimum of five years in federal prison. An FBI agent downloaded eight images of child pornography from a computer found at Burke's home in Dubuque, according to a criminal complaint.

At least three of the images involved boys who appeared to be between the ages of 8 and 10 performing oral sex, according to a court affidavit filed by Robert Larsen, a special agent for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

Law enforcement officials served a search warrant at Burke's home Friday morning, seizing his computer and some printed images depicting minors engaged in sexual conduct, according to the affidavit. Investigators later received permission to search the school, according to the school board president.

Burke was being held in federal custody Saturday. He is scheduled for a detention hearing at 10 a.m. Tuesday. The public defender who represented Burke at Friday's hearing, Jo Lilledahl, did not return messages left by the Associated Press seeking comment.

Burke had already been suspended with pay when the school board met Saturday.

The school district will pursue termination of Burke's contract, following the process outlined in the Iowa School Code, human resources Director Stan Rheingans said.Under school regulations, Burke will have a five-day window after receiving the school board's decision to request an admin­istrative law judge review of his firing.

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