Well, one board member.
Montgomery County Schools superintendent Joshua Powell isn’t content going after his employees who refuse to go along with his schemes.
Now he’s going after school board members. Alice Anderson, to be specific. Because she’s been the only vote against his nonsense.
The allegation? Specifically: Board Member Alice Anderson overstepped her authority as board member by attempting to physically relocate the Early Learning Center without approval by the full Montgomery County Board of Education.. After being asked by Powell to do so. Because there were heat and water issues in the building that had delayed the return of students for several days.
Check out the complaint Powell pushed against her along with the ensuing investigation. Seriously — it’s high hilarity and you’ll get a big kick out of it:
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The crazy thing? No one had a copy of this but Anderson and Powell. But it was somehow leaked to the newspaper in Mt. Sterling and folks there started making calls about it. Anderson didn’t leak it. Can you guess who did? (We only got our hands on it after quite a bit of persuasion.)
Powell. He leaked it because he wants to try to control the story. Unfortunately for him, more people read this site than can fit inside Montgomery County.
As you can see by reading the entire document, this was something concocted by Powell and Kristi Carter, the iPad lady/childcare head/”PR director”.
Powell learned that Assistant Superintendent Phil Rison would be meeting on January 29, 2014 in his office with several members of the Montgomery County central office at 8:30 or 9:00 a.m. to discuss the ELC. Superintendent Powell advised Ms. Anderson and asked her if she would like to attend the meeting with Mr. Rison. Ms. Anderson agreed to do so and invited Board Member Sharon Smith-Breiner. Both Ms. Anderson and Ms. Smith-Breiner attended the meeting.
On January 29, 2014, the following individuals met to discuss the ELC and options for returning students to class: Assistant Superintendent Rison, Director of Special Projects Anna Powell, Director of Daycare/Public Relations Kristi Carter, Special Education Consultant Dena Amburgey, Board members Alice Anderson and Sharon Smith-Breiner, and Maintenance/Quality Control Supervisor David Walters. Mr. Walters had been invited to the meeting by Mr. Rison.
The ELC had a number of issues which had become more significant due to the harsh winter being experienced. There were issues with the heat and water in the building.
Ms. Anderson advised that she believed everyone in the meeting was in agreement that moving the preschool classes upstairs was the best option. She advised that no one expressed disagreement with this option. Interviews with others at the meeting revealed that no one raised a disagreement with Ms. Anderson when she suggested this was the best option.
The other half of those interviewed about the meeting saying that Ms. Anderson was threatening and intimidating. However, no one at the meeting openly disagreed with the option suggested by Ms. Anderson.
Everyone in the hallway confirmed that Ms. Amburgey did not appear to be upset by the fact that they would be moving classrooms or that Ms. Anderson was going to volunteer. At least one member of the staff advised that the possibility of a move had been discussed several days earlier.
Ms. Smith-Breiner had agreed to volunteer her help but then changed her mind and advised Ms. Powell and Mr. Rison that she would not assist. Ms. Smith-Breiner further advised that she spoke with both Superintendent Powell and Mr. Rison in the central office. She requested that Mr. Rison contact Ms. Anderson and tell her it was a bad idea for her to go to the ELC and help. Mr. Rison did not call Ms. Anderson.
Ms. Carter stated that she called childcare workers who usually work 2:00 to 6:00pm to come in early in order to assist with the move.
Most everyone interviewed believed the childcare move was complete prior to Ms. Anderson’s arrival at the ELC.
Everyone interviewed advised that it appeared that Ms. Amburgey was in charge of coordinating the move that day. All agreed that it was a disorganized process and no one seemd to know what to do or when to do it. It was reported that Ms. Powell kept asking where Ms. Anderson was because she said “we do not know what to do.”
A minority of individuals interviewed stated that the atmosphere in the building was fearful and intimidating “like a prison movie.” Ms. Anderson was said to have been on a rampage no caring about anything but getting the preschool open. It was also reported that she was telling everyone what to do like she was the boss.
Ms. Anderson arrived after lunch.
The majority of individuals interviewed who were at the ELC during the move advised that there was no intimidation or threatening behavior by Ms. Anderson and no one reported hearing Ms. Anderson fussing at Ms. Carter, Ms. Powell, or M.s Amburgey.
Most agreed that Ms. Carter had completed the move of the daycare prior to Ms. Anderson’s arrival.
The majority of those participating in the move stated that they looked to Ms. Anderson for direction after she arrived. They felt because of her past employment in the district she knew how to effectuate the move in the most efficient manner. A minority of those interviewed thought Ms. Anderson was intent on taking over and being the boss.
The majority of those interviewed said they were not fearful or intimidated at all by Ms. Anderson and welcomed her assistance. OEA staff was provided a thumb-drive containing excerpts from a recording made by Ms. Carter during the move on January 29. OEA did not receive the entire recording. On the excerpts, Ms. Anderson can be heard giving directions; however, also heard in the background was laughter and teasing between staff and Ms. Anderson. The excerpts confirm what the majority of those at the ELC told OEA staff.
As to the allegations of Ms. Anderson interfering in personnel, OEA found no evidence to support this allegation. Superintendent Powell advised that she has done so.
The move? It had to be done because Powell and others refused to take action. It was something that had been discussed among board members and Powell for several days and Carter/Amburgey had discussed it with their staffers. When Anderson stepped in to help, at the request of Powell, she came up with a plan. By reading the document, it’s clear that the OEA believes the entire move was orchestrated and carried out by Powell/Carter and crew. It’s also clear that the minority of individuals who felt “fear” were, you guessed it, the very people in the hot seat now.
The “rampage” bit and the scene being “like a prison movie”? Alice Anderson was a janitor. Not the sharpest tool in the shed, clearly, but calm, collected with the ability to work well with judgmental students and crazy teachers. That’s the only way janitors can survive in a large school with all hell breaking loose on a daily basis. She has a public history on the board of education of being reasoned and collected. And there’s nothing in any of her former employer reviews to detail attitude or anger issues. So if you’re like us, you’re assuming that’s something cooked up by the Powell crew to exact revenge upon the only person on the board standing up to them.
At the end of the report, when OEA says there is no evidence to back up any of the claims Powell and crew made against her, the agency hints at another problem. Powell claiming that Anderson has attempted to interfere in the hiring of school employees. It’s like this guy has no concept of reality, no memory of the dozens of instances outlined on this site and in other media outlets discussing board involvement in hiring. Powell himself claimed at one point that the board hired his wife. It’s bizarre. It’s also even more clear that Powell will stop at nothing to retaliate against those who question his poor chooses or attempt to reign in reckless behavior.
The most damning part of it all? The OEA revealing that Kristi Carter provided a selectively edited secret audio recording that she took during the move… and it ended up backfiring on her. Seems to fit in extremely well with her other secret recording incidents. And it makes plain as day that this was all orchestrated with the intent to harm Anderson.
If you’ve been wondering why nothing happens in Montgomery County? It’s because the agencies responsible for taking action are operated by the Legislative Research Commission. You can fire up your googler if you’re unfamiliar with the corruption of the LRC. You can see how its inept attorneys behave by watching the Will Coursey sex scandal unfold. And you can get a terrific sense of how ridiculous the organization’s leadership is when you realize that Bobby Sherman is the guy who ran LRC for years and years and that Greg Stumbo and Bob Stivers have complete control.
This report from the OEA is the first instance in a year where we’ve seen something get done. But it was because of complaints filed by the Powell machine against people standing up against corruption. While the agency cleared Anderson and made the rest of the bunch look like complete buffoons, it has blood on its hands for allowing this corrupt regime to run roughshod over children and taxpayers for far too long.
Want to catch up on everything? There are dozens upon dozens of stories detailing corruption, waste, fraud and abuse here in THIS ROUNDUP.
The stories since then are here:
- Montgomery Co. Schools Officials Live On Topix [June 24, 2014]
- More Retaliation Claims Surface In Montgomery Co. [June 25, 2014]
- Record Attendance At MoCo School Board Mtg [June 26, 2014]
We’ve created a Joshua Powell category to make finding all of these stories even easier.
P.S. LRC folks wouldn’t deny that they, like the EPSB in the past, had to deal with attempts from Powell and crew to intimidate their underlings during this investigation. So there’s that fun stuff, as well.