Former Alcorn County school principal was never charged for taking inappropriate photos

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CORINTH, Miss. -- Parents in Memphis are still wondering how a man who lost his teaching license in Mississippi ended up in a KIPP Memphis classroom last week.

WREG has uncovered it's likely because the former Alcorn Central Middle School principal was never charged with a crime.

WREG went to Alcorn County, Mississippi, Wednesday to learn more.

“I was in the eighth grade when it happened,” said one student, now a high school senior.

She’s still upset when she remembers Dan Burcham being removed as principal of her middle school.

Mississippi Department of Education records show he lost his license for using a cellphone to take inappropriate photos of teachers and students. They also stated he engaged in unethical conduct in a relationship with a student.

“As a teenager, cheerleader, we didn’t know if he filmed us and our friends. It was very traumatic, and we still don’t know,” the student, who didn't want to be identified, told WREG.

She also said school officials didn’t want people to know about it.

“It should’ve been better known across the general area like Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alabama. I just don’t think people like that should be around kids,” she said.

“It’s different with the school system. If it was someone else, they would’ve gotten criminal charges. But being the school system, I think that’s the only reason,” another former student said.

Current Alcorn County Sheriff Ben Caldwell said his predecessor turned over some evidence to the district attorney's office when the incident occurred in 2013. He said he didn't know why charges were never filed.

He noted former Sheriff Charles Rinehart, who was in office in 2013, is now on house arrest; Rinehart pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges in 2016.

Current district attorney John Weddle said his office did not have any records on this case.

Weddle was not in office in 2013, either.

He said he didn't know what happened but thought it is possible Burcham committed a crime.

Two teachers felt that way in 2013, and attorney Jim Waide filed a lawsuit on their behalf. It stated Burcham had a fetish for taking pictures and videos of women’s rear ends and breasts.

Waide said they were tired of being told to keep quiet.

"I think the superintendent was afraid of the bad publicity," Waide said. "They thought it needed to be known because he didn’t need to be teaching elsewhere."

The case was settled out of court, and Burcham never got charged.

Waide’s best guess was the parents of the victims wouldn’t come forward.

He also said he didn't know if any peeping Tom or pornography laws would apply to the case.

A representative from Alcorn County Schools said the school system had no comment regarding what happened in 2013.

Weddle said his office would remain open to future prosecution if more evidence is presented.

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