Wake County Public School System

Hall of Fame


Dr. Del Burns

Former special education teacher and distinguished school leader Dr. Del Burns served WCPSS for more than 34 years.

Del Burns began his career in public schools in 1976 as a lateral entry special education teacher in the Wake County Public School System. He retired from WCPSS in 2010 after serving as superintendent for four years. During those 34 years he served many roles, including Principal of Washington GT Magnet Elementary School, East Wake High School, and Millbrook High School, and in 1999 he was named WCPSS Principal of the Year.

As Deputy Superintendent and later Superintendent, Dr. Burns acted on his belief that leadership development was a critical component for success in classrooms, schools, and the school system. Under his leadership, Professional Learning Communities were expanded in scope and function for teachers, and high-quality training and development was provided for teacher leaders, assistant principals, principals, and central services administrators to support their work, as well as ensure effective succession planning. Dr. Burns led the system during a time of explosive growth in student enrollment, requiring a $1 Billion capital plan for new schools and major renovations to provide seats necessary to address existing over-crowding and projected student growth.

Dr. Burns continues his work in public schools. He has provided consulting services to large and small public school districts and boards of education in rural and urban areas across several states. He has provided executive coaching, mentoring, training, and support for superintendents, district leaders, and principals. He served as interim superintendent in the Alamance-Burlington School System, Edgecombe County Public Schools, Orange County Schools, Bertie County Schools, and in the Wake County Public School System.

Based on his commitment and advocacy for public schools and his belief that public schools undergird our democratic republic, he co-authored Preserving the Public in Public Schools with Dr. Phil Boyle. He has also written several articles including “If the Playing Field is Tilted, Why Level It?” published in the AASA School Administrator magazine, and “Keeping the Public in Public Schools” published in the American School Board Journal.

Del Burns was inducted into the Wake County Public School System Hall of Fame in 2019.