Most Damning Montgomery Co. Scandal Yet

Attorney General Jack Conway’s office has had an iPad that belongs to Montgomery County Schools for several months. It contains evidence that an employee sent a photograph of a young child in their care to an older man in a flirtatious manner. The child’s family is livid, the school employee who made the discovery and reported it has been threatened by Kentucky State Police troopers and now they’re being retaliated against by school officials. It’s a scenario that would result in firings and prosecutions in any other state.

I know the iPad ended up in the hands of the Office of the Attorney General because I arranged for that to occur early last fall. Rather than write a scandalous story about it, I got law enforcement involved. Because Jack Conway had a history of standing up for vulnerable children and against anything remotely resembling something inappropriate with a child. The OAG has been given more than enough time to act. I was repeatedly assured in writing and via telephone that the matter would be promptly investigated and the individual turning over the equipment would be protected. This will be the last time we ever try to do the right thing with Jack Conway.

As you already know, nothing happened. Other than someone at the OAG leaking details to a state trooper who threatened the whistleblower. You know that because we published the text messages.

What you don’t know, though, is that officials at the Kentucky Department of Education, the LRC, EPSB and OEA were all made aware in May 2013 and did absolutely nothing.

Now it’s time to lay everything out on the table.

Kristi Carter or someone using her account allegedly sent a photo of a child to church elder and building/contractor after long after school hours. When no children were around. When no one had access to school iOS devices. The image and accompanying text messages were sent from her iOS/iMessage account. The discovery was made because her telephone was synched, via Apple’s iCloud/iMessages system, to another device within the child care division.

It couldn’t have been sent by a kid at a late hour. Even if it was, the accounts were synched and this sort of thing showed up immediately on Carter’s iPhone. Which means she saw it as it was happening and did absolutely nothing to stop it. No one in their right mind believes the head of child care and public relations wouldn’t step in to stop something like that. But she didn’t. There’s ample evidence suggesting she did it or knew it was occurring. Doesn’t help matters that this was addressed with her and her superior (superintendent Joshua Powell) and it was covered up. Though, that’s for law enforcement to dig into.

Here are some of those text messages:


FROM THE iPad/iMessages ACCOUNT

Not child pornography but absurd. The photo was sent without the parents’ permission and the accompanying message was suggestive and cause for serious concern. Note that the accompanying image was taken long before (during daylight hours) the messages were sent.

Carter and the district have not returned multiple requests for explanations and comments.

Here’s the receipt the whistleblower, Jennifer Hall, was given upon delivering the iPad to the OAG:


CLICK TO ENLARGE

Hall was advised that a subpoena would have to be issued in order to get permission to access the device and she’d hear back about an interview. Neither of those things occurred.

Of note: More than a year ago, OEA/LRC was advised of the shenanigans involving children and nothing happened:


CLICK TO ENLARGE

Like most messes in Frankfort, it was swept under the rug.

Jennifer Hall, as you’re already familiar, was immediately retaliated against by superintendent Joshua Powell and his circle because they suspected she was responsible for the missing iPad.

Things got so out-of-hand that Kristi Carter, her boss, withheld her annual review and accused her gossiping. It was so bad that Hall delivered a letter to the entire school board about the incident and the ensuing retaliation.

She has since filed official complaints about the retaliation and retained legal counsel.

But now? Carter and Powell have decided to take things a step further in retaliation.

Here’s the letter that was handed to Hall on Friday afternoon:


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They’re suspending her. Accusing her of stealing school equipment. “Investigating” the incident.

Despite Powell and crew knowing the device is in the hands of law enforcement and knowing that there is an ongoing investigation (or would be, if the OAG had taken action) that is potentially criminal.

It really beats everything we’ve ever seen. They’re openly going after this woman for doing the right thing.

Powell illegally hired his wife. The State Auditor of Public Accounts proved it.

There are countless ongoing OEA/EPSB/OCR investigations on top of everything that’s already been reported throughout the past year.

He had a seriously rough history in Union County that followed him to Montgomery County. Involved high-level educational corruption that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

He’s been sued by so many school district folks it’s costing something like half a million dollars to defend him. And these people are winning, as he’s been forced to reinstate some of them (Jim Dusso) while facing more serious concerns with others.

A woman Powell trumped up charges on is suing him for wrongful termination. And it’ll likely stick, as her attorney has apparently been able to prove Powell maintained a secret personnel file filled with defamatory information about her from Topix.

Now we have this iPad issue and the related retaliation.

To say it’s absurd is an understatement. The Office of the Attorney General needs to be raiding the district. Computers, digital accounts, physical documents need to be seized. This is some nonsense that needs to stop.

Enough is enough. We can write stories every day that raise eyebrows and make heads spin. But action needs to be taken. There’s no way around it.

They’re doing all of this with taxpayer dollars. All but one school board member is tacitly approving everything they do. Agencies that govern education either don’t care or are too overwhelmed to act. The local newspaper paints rosy picture after rosy picture, never asking questions or holding officials accountable.

It’s time for someone to step in for Montgomery Countians who have no hope for recourse.

May be silly to say at this point in coverage but there’s way more to come.

You ready?

We’ve barely scratched the surface.

Notes about this situation: We’ve spent months and months vetting these data in both their native Apple code and in backed up form. There hasn’t been alteration.

Hall, who is not our source for any of these stories but has given permission for her name to be used, has been vetted and put through the wringer by me (Jake) for ages. If you’ve ever worked with me, you know I’ll run circles around you in order to get to the bottom of something. I’ve dug through her life, purposefully set her up to put her foot in her mouth, hired a private investigator to verify many claims, interviewed family members, co-workers, parents of children.

The allegations made are serious. I’ve spent NINE MONTHS digging through everything. Nine months. Hall has been interrogated so many times – by me – that I can say without a doubt that she’s been shaken to her core during this long, drawn out investigation.

Allegations are just that. They’re allegations. But the data we’ve published throughout the past year, when coupled with other official documents and material like that in this story, are substantial and worthy of investigation on the federal level.

It’s clear to us that no one in state government can be trusted to handle anything in Montgomery County because so many people have repeatedly dropped the ball.