Would you be surprised to learn that Montgomery County Schools superintendent Joshua Powell singled out and retaliated against another employee?
Everything from threatening family members, pushing resignations and annual evaluation manipulation to firings, stalking and even allegations of a sexual affair. All that likely sounds familiar because it’s been used on other employees who have sued Powell and the district.
Turns out, Powell started these shenanigans in 2011 when he became superintendent of schools. Unfortunately for him, he started with an assistant principal and curriculum specialist named Michelle Goins-Henry who was wise enough to fight back. After a months-long nightmare, she retained an attorney and hit hard. While she’s no longer employed by the school district — and has even gone so far as to remove her children — Powell was forced to settle because she was meticulous.
She documented and recorded everything.
Guess who has his hands on it. Including glorious audio recordings of meetings with Powell.
I’ll be publishing all of it over the coming weeks.
But here’s a teaser…
Excerpts from a gigantic timeline in the case:
- Powell tried to force Gae Elliott, the Principal at McNabb to resign before school started. Gae told Mr. Powell that she was not going to resign.
- I explained to him that we were having trouble with the Special Education schedule and asked him if he would have time to look at it and may be give me some ideas. He asked Mrs. Cockrell and me if we were really that stupid that we could not figure out the problem.
- Mr. Powell continued with what he called his “Disruptive Innovation” Plan throughout the District. People were removed and reassigned positions throughout the months of September-December. It created unstable working conditions because no one knew if they would be next. This was, also, a pattern for which had created OEA investigations on Mr. Powell in Union County.
- Dawn Cockrell was forced to resign her position from Director of Curriculum and Instruction and was placed back in the classroom at Mount Sterling Elementary.
- Sharon Smith was forced to resign her position as Principal at Camargo Elementary and went to the Preschool Center.
- Mr. Powell was very short with me. If I spoke in a meeting, he would cut me off and would not let me finish.
- Mr. Powell called Shannon Gross, Mark Allen Crain, and me to his office to meet with him. (The names listed were all three Assistant Principals at McNabb Middle School.) During the meeting, he told the three of us that he had done every psychological tactic he knew to turn the three of us against each other. He said he didn’t get it because every time, none of us would turn on each other. He asked us if we thought we could handle running the school until a new principal was hired at McNabb.
- In an administrative meeting, Mr. Powell again cut me off as I was speaking. After the meeting, I stopped by Mr. Powell’s office. He was walking in and I asked him if I could talk to him for a few minutes. After closing the door in his office, Mr. Powell sat down behind his desk. I told him that I was upset and did not understand why he constantly cut me off and would not let me talk. He told me that was because I couldn’t think for myself. I gave him examples of how he would either cut me off or was just rude when I was around him. He told me that I needed to cut my ties with certain people and said that it would be in my best interest if I no longer had contact with someone. He asked me if I understood what he was talking about. I did understand who he was referring to (Dawn Cockrell) but neither one of us ever said her name. I told him that I had not talked to her since she went to Mount Sterling Elementary. Again, he told me to cut ties with a certain person. Mr. Powell told me that I continued to hold on to the Gifted Program at McNabb. He said that my daughter was in the gifted program and raised his eyebrows. I told him the child he was referring to was my daughter and her name was Addison. I stated that she was placed in those classes because she had tested and was identified to be in those classes. He said it was a joke that somehow all the Central Office employee’s children were in those classes. Towards the end of the meeting, Mr. Powell became extremely agitated with me and quickly stood up from behind his desk. He placed his hands on his desk and leaned forward towards me. I was still sitting in the chair to the right of his desk. He asked me about the little family that I had and he told me that I needed to worry about my pretty little family. He asked me if he was clear. I told him I was completely clear on what he was saying and I left his office.
- I moved my children, a 7th grader and a 4th grader, out of Montgomery County Schools due to Mr. Powell’s threat against my children and family.
- Throughout December, Mr. Powell would stop in where the curriculum specialists were working. He said that if we wanted to know what to get him for Christmas, that we all could go in together to get him a high powered scope for his gun. He said this several times throughout December.
- Also, during the meeting, Peace questioned me about having a sexual relationship with Mr. Powell. I told her that there was never anything even remotely close to that happening. And, that would never, ever happen. Peace packed up all of my information as we talked and I filled out a request for legal aid from KEA. Peace placed all the information in an envelope to mail to Frankfort. The next week, Peace called to inform me that she had shared my information with Mr. Powell and she no longer felt that she needed to send the information to Frankfort.
- Mike Owsley sent a settlement agreement to Jeff Walther to withdraw the wrongful termination. In addition, my insurance and other benefits were reinstated from the date of termination on 4/18/12. The Montgomery County Board of Education nor the board attorney were notify about the settlement.
- Mr. Powell was seen on different occasions driving by and stopping in front of my house. He was seen by me and my neighbor. One day when I wasn’t home, my neighbor called to tell me that the same person was sitting in front of my house.
As you can see, it involves KEA representatives, Terry Holliday and countless other individuals in the Powell crew.
Ready for more?
Tomorrow we’ll publish some audio excerpts.
Then we’ll really dig in next week.