On Powell's Agreed Order & Required Training…

Remember when Montgomery County Schools superintendent Joshua Powell was ordered to undergo training as part of an agreed order in Union County regarding problems that date all the way back to 2010?

“Powell shall submit written proof to the board that he has received professional development/training in the area of educator certification as approved by the board no later than June 1, 2014. Any expense incurred for said training shall be paid by Powell. Should Powell fail to satisfy this condition, certificate number 200102683 shall be automatically suspended until the condition is met. Powell is aware that should he violate KRS 161.120 in the future, the board shall initiate a new disciplinary action and seek additional sanctions.”

He had until June 1, 2014 to get it done. And he had to pay for the training himself.

After an open records request with the Education Professional Standards Board (they tried to require we submit a request via fax — in 2014! Time for the legislature to update KRS to include email), we got our hands on Powell’s certificate:


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Stamped May 23 by EPSB:


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His training was provided by Gregory Ross of ACE Corp Educational Services, an entity (it would seem to be an entity, anyway) approved by EPSB to conduct Powell’s training.

When undergoing serious, corrective training ordered by an agency as important as EPSB, one would think it would need to be conducted by a firm accredited on all kinds of levels, right? Or that it would be a company with a proven track record, thousands of success stories and a presence that could at the very least be confirmed with the government of the state in which it is operating, right? Primarily because Powell’s ordered training has a direct impact on hundreds of adult employees and thousands of children in the public education system?

You’d be mistaken.

ACE isn’t an entity that exists, according to the Kentucky Secretary of State’s website. We emailed Ross to request comment and this is what we received:

I just moved to Lexington, KY and I have picked up paperwork to obtain a local business license here since I am new to the area. However, I do not gross enough from providing trainings to have to continue paying license fees after my initial year.

Despite claiming to be incorporated, he is not.

Ross promotes his ties to EPSB on his website:


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Which lends implied credibility to the average reader and allows Powell to contend that he was trained by a respected agency authorized to train by the organization investigating him.

We got our hands on a Power Point presentation Ross gives in promoting his services to EPSB, discovering that his fee is usually $400 and the training can be conducted via Skype:


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Which means for a few hundred bucks and a few minutes in front of a computer, Powell is free and clear.

None of this is to belittle Ross. He is clearly not to blame and had no idea what he was getting involved in, according to him. He’s apparently trusted by the EPSB because he’s a former board member. But this does highlight how easy and unofficially official it was for Powell to get away with an EPSB order. Ross has been completely up front and honest. Powell, not so much.

Note: EPSB sources tell us Ross was given one-time approval to train Powell.

On the payment front, we filed an open records request with Montgomery County Schools to determine who paid for Powell’s training. That turned up nothing, so he’s paid for it himself or it’s being hidden. This isn’t a baseless concern since there’s a history of passing the buck to the district.

Here’s what Ross said via email when we asked about payment:

Mr. Powell paid me $200. I require either a money order or a certified check. So, I can not be extremely clear to where those funds came from. I will say most of my initial conversation was with Mrs. Powell. She is the one that contacted me to have the training completed and did most of the leg work to assure it was done in a timely manner.

Which means there’s a $200 expenditure or reimbursement to keep an eye out for. And that Joshua Powell not only didn’t take his EPSB order seriously, his wife had to do everything for him. Straight from the training provider’s fingertips.

Long story short: Powell viewed the EPSB order with such a dismissive attitude that his wife handled training for him. The training he received wasn’t by an institution with a history commensurate with the level of seriousness of Powell’s situation. It was literally provided at the last minute by a random teacher for $200. Powell walks away free and clear.

Still wondering why Montgomery County is up a creek without a paddle? It’s because your leaders can get into serious trouble and make it all go away by talking to a guy via Skype as he sits in his spare bedroom. We’re not experts but that seems like kind of a big deal.