Friday, January 09, 2015

Montgomery County School Board suspends superintendent Josh Powell

This from H-L

The Montgomery County School Board in Mount Sterling suspended superintendent Joshua Powell effective Thursday, according to Powell's attorney, Wayne Young.

An attorney for the school board did not return telephone calls Thursday.

Young said in an email: "The board did suspend him; they offered no explanation as to the basis for the suspension. I am of the opinion that there is no authority under Kentucky law to suspend a local superintendent."

Young said the suspension was not warranted. 

This from Page One Kentucky:

Joshua Powell Has Finally Been Suspended

The new Montgomery County school board just suspended embattled superintendent Joshua Powell in an urgently called special session.

He’s denied legal defense fees from insurance and his contract isn’t being renewed.

Donna Wilson is the only member who opposed the action.

There’s another special session scheduled for Monday.
Since being sworn in, the new board has been working with an attorney from the southeastern part of the state who specializes in cases like the one in Montgomery County. Looks like it just paid off.

The move comes on the heels of an 18-month investigation by Page One, years of scandal, multiple lawsuits and dozens of investigations by state and federal agencies. Powell has been chastised by the State Auditor of Public Accounts for illegally hiring his wife, condemned by the Office of Civil Rights for ongoing Title IX violations, investigated by the Office of Education Accountability on several occasions and repeatedly taken to task by the Education Professional Standards Board. And on Monday, Powell begins yet another EPSB trial. (Get ready — that will be crazy.)

He also faces multiple lawsuits filed by former employees with at least two additional suits set to be filed soon.

Powell’s suspension means he’s no longer permitted to enter the central office and may not handle school accounts or activities until the board decides he can return to work. Which is not likely to happen. They’ll end up paying him for the duration of his contract, since the EPSB outcome won’t be reached until June/July. Or they’ll conduct their own investigation and find reason to fire him with cause.

Powell’s team has been coming unglued the past week. Intimidating (not allegedly) witnesses set to testify, threatening this very website, allowing his legal team to interrupt classroom instruction to interview teachers. They’ve even been spotted outside the homes of people suing him in a black Toyota SUV. He’s also taken it upon himself to give his inner circle of co-conspirators promotions and pay raises in an attempt to offer payback. During Monday evening’s meeting, Powell had his entire legal team present in anticipation of being terminated.

Despite claims to the contrary, Powell is not likely to grace the halls of Montgomery County Schools again. And despite what his team have to say about Education Commissioner Terry Holliday intervening to stop the board? Sources tell us there are plans to take legal action against Holliday if he steps in.

Bonus: That indemnity clause in Powell’s contract?

Indemnity: The Board agrees that to the extent insurance or similar coverage is afforded to the Board, the Board shall defend, hold harmless, and indemnify the Superintendent from all demands, claims, suits, actions, and legal proceedings brought against the Superintendent in his individual capacity or in his official capacity as agent and employee of the District provided same arose while the Superintendent was acting within the scope of his employment. [If in the good faith opinion of the Superintendent a conflict exists regarding the defense to such claim between the legal position of the Superintendent and the legal position of the Board and/or District, the Superintendent may engage counsel in which event the District shall indemnify the Superintendent for the cost of the legal.] – subject to insurance coverage.
Hearing from sources on the board that there are legal opinions suggesting that the clause won’t hold up in court. Potentially OAG 86-18 from March 19, 1986. We’ll publish those opinions at a later date.
There’s more where that came from.

And this:

Montgomery Co: Sadly, Your Story Isn’t Over Yet

Our investigation may have taken 18 months but during last evening’s Montgomery County Board of Education meeting, embattled superintendent Joshua Powell was finally suspended.

As reported last night, Powell is suspended and he’s lost his free ride on the legal fees front. His contract is not being renewed. The board has brought on a new attorney. And there’s another special session taking place Monday evening — the same day his latest Education Professional Standards Board trial begins.

Donna Wilson was the only member to oppose these actions, so you can bet she’ll lose any re-election bid. Though, little birdies tell us she likely won’t run again.

Unfortunately, the nightmare for Montgomery County isn’t over. The process with EPSB will take until June or July. Though, the school board will be able to act long before then if it so chooses. But there are lingering cases with the Office of Civil Rights over Title IX violations, three current lawsuits are pending against him and two more set to be filed any day now. When depositions in those cases begin, all hell will break loose.

Once an interim superintendent is named, investigations will begin and those efforts will take several months. Powell likely will sue the board. He’ll lose. The district will clean house. Everyone will move on.

So buckle in for a long ride. Just know that you’re on the last leg of the trip.
Here’s the video you’re all waiting to see:

Dr. Kelly Johnson should be commended for taking the initiative. It is abundantly clear that Johnson, Bill Morgan, Alice Anderson and (most of the time recently) Sharon Smith-Breiner have listened to their constituents and kept their promises. It’s rare for public servants in such a capacity to stand up and do what’s right despite the serious personal risk involved. They’ve shown leadership and deserve your thanks.
Montgomery County is breathing a small and brief sigh of relief.

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