Powell Potentially Pulling A Legal Fee Fast One

Montgomery County Schools superintendent Joshua Powell has claimed on several occasions that the school district has paid his legal bills relating to the Education Professional Standards Board case against him stemming from his time in Union County.

That’s not a secret.

There’s a bit of problem.

When you examine Powell’s contract (don’t miss the hundreds of thousands spent so far!), you learn the school board agreed to pay his legal fees (as well as his own personal attorney, Mike Owsley) for anything that occurs during his time at Montgomery County:

Indemnity: The Board agrees that to the extent insurance or similar coverage is afforded to the Board, the Board shall defend, hold harmless, and indemnify the Superintendent from all Demands, claims, suits, actions, and legal proceedings brought against the Superintendent in his individual capacity or in his official capacity as agent and employee of the District provided same arose while the Superintendent was acting within the scope of his employment (emphasis ours). [ If in the good faith opinion of the Superintendent a conflict exists regarding the defense to such claim between the legal position of the Superintendent and the legal position of the Board and/or District, the Superintendent may engage counsel in which even the District shall indemnify the Superintendent for the cost the legal.] subject to insurance coverage.

We finally had the opportunity to review the EPSB charging document originally filed against Powell and discovered this language:

Respondent is advised that he has the right to be represented by counsel … at his own expense (emphasis ours)…

At his own expense. Sense the problem? Powell has potentially pulled a fast one over the district to get it to pay for his Union County corruption. On a related note: Officials tell us that Union County Schools paid for all of his legal fees until he left the district. So he’s likely done the same there.

Kind of a big deal.

During last year’s audit from Adam Edelen, information was provided to the audit staff highlighting potential legal insurance fraud. But guess who Edelen allowed to conduct that part of the investigation: board chair Kenney Gulley and board member Kelly Murphy. Here’s the audit (Warning: External PDF Link) if you wish to review it.

Pertinent excerpt from Page 2, Paragraph 2:

According to one Board member who recently made suchlike a request, the Superintendent did not provide the Board member with the information stating that the details associated with the billing statements were related to personnel matters. Upon auditor’s request, the Board Chair and Assistant Board Chair requested and reviewed unredacted Board attorney billing statements and indicated to auditors that all attorney activity recorded within the billings related to District business.

Clearly, legal fees related to Union County and the EPSB are not related to Montgomery County business. But. There you have it. Adam Edelen took their word for it that all was well, puppies and rainbows, nothing to see.

No wonder Gulley and Murphy aren’t seeking re-election. They know what’s coming.

Stinks to high heavens. Especially in light of the recent decision to stop paying Powell’s personal attorney.

There’s more on the EPSB charging document coming a bit later. Check back at 2:00, our next scheduled spot.