We hinted a week or so ago that Montgomery County Schools superintendent Joshua Powell had replaced the Montgomery County High School principal in a sticky situation.
What we didn’t reveal was that we knew the principal had hired a prominent attorney and was pressing forward to slap Montgomery County Schools. The former principal, Jim Dusso, wouldn’t talk and his attorney wouldn’t spill the beans so we turned to our sources there for the skinny.
Here’s the email to staff announcing that Dusso’s replacement was Shannon White:
From: “Harris, Stephanie”
Date: February 24, 2014 at 11:36:15 AM EST
To: Montgomery Co ME Classified Staff, Montgomery Co ME Teachers, “Newcomer, Elizabeth”
Subject: Mr. White
I just wanted to inform everyone that as of 11:00 today, Mr. White has been pulled to be the interim principal at the high school. He will be there the rest of the school year. At this time, I am not sure who will be filling in for him. I will do my best to try and meet everyone’s needs. I am sad we are losing him, but this is an incredible staff, and I know we will be fine. If there was a meeting he was supposed to chair or a daily duty he did for your student, please let me know as I might not be aware of it. Thanks for all you do!
Stephanie Harris, NBCT
Now let’s take a peek at the story that ran in the Mt. Sterling Advocate about the ordeal:
Montgomery County Schools announced Monday a vacancy in the Montgomery County High School principal’s position.
The position, since 2012, had been filled by Jim Dusso. A letter addressed to parents, students and community members from superintendent Josh Powell—which went out Monday—cited no reason for the vacancy.
“Beyond stating that Mr. Dusso is no longer serving a principal of Montgomery County High School, I cannot comment due to the personnel nature of the issue,” Powell told the Advocate Tuesday. “We are very excited to have someone of Mr. White’s caliber to take the helm for the remainder of the year.”
Powell couldn’t comment because he appears to have put himself between a rock and a hard spot.
Before we go further, there was this gem at the end of the Advocate story:
With regard to Mapletown and White’s previous position, the school administrative manager position will remain vacant for the remainder of the school year.
“Officer Chris Barrier will work at Mapleton to ensure supervision of students,” Powell told the Advocate Tuesday.
Which backs up our earlier revelation that Powell had put a school resource officer in charge.
It’s also interesting to note that Powell told the paper a SAMs staffer wouldn’t be used at Mapleton Elementary for the remainder of the year. On the same day that the principal sent out a letter naming Barrier as an interim SAMs staffer:
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Not surprising that Powell would be lying to the paper or that the paper wouldn’t call him out (the paper had a copy of this letter at the time).
Once the paper’s story was out and Powell had been caught spreading misinformation, he instructed his staff to send this out:
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Stephanie Harris was chewed out by Powell for telling the truth. You’ll note the new letter doesn’t mention that the guy will be supervising classified staff, which he is doing. Even directing a handful of certified staff.
Back to Dusso being replaced by White, a personal friend of Powell…
Here’s what we’ve been able to piece together from three different people:
Dusso was allegedly given the boot for taking a vacation that had been previously approved by Powell. Paperwork signed, everything in order. Just before Dusso was set to depart, Powell is alleged by several to have informed Dusso that if he went, he’d be fired. Dusso went, the shiz hit the fan and he now has attorney Jeffrey Walther representing him.
It seems that Powell wanted to get rid of a teacher at the high school, so he allegedly directed Dusso to fire them. Dusso refused, advised Powell that the teacher had great evaluations, solid educator, there was no basis for termination. So Powell (again, this is alleged… but our sources have been solid for months on these things) directed Dusso to alter the teacher’s evaluations to make their firing possible. Dusso refused and reported Powell in Frankfort thinking he’d be protected as a whistleblower. Powell found out what happened and started to scheme. Way to go, Terry Holliday!
According to a few teachers we’ve spoken with? Powell pushed several high school teachers to file complaints about Dusso so he’d have grounds to replace him.
The rub? Some of those teachers Powell is alleged to have asked to file complaints were students of his at the co-op class he teaches at Morehead State.
If that all pans out as true, it’s unsurprising but still crazy.
There’s real turmoil within the district. Dozens upon dozens of angry teachers, administrative staff, upset students. What the small town newspaper never reveals is that it’s not all puppies and rainbows.
The more one digs into Montgomery County Schools, the worse it gets.