Powell Uses Middle Man To Intimidate Relatives Of Board Members And Decision Makers

Last week we published a story about Montgomery County Schools superintendent Joshua Powell repeating potentially illegal activity in Montgomery County. Activity for which he faced a major investigation while superintendent of Union County Schools.

In the process of reporting that, we had to excerpt from an Office of Education Accountability report about Powell. And this stood out:

Superintendent Powell circumvented the Union County High School (UCHS) Council when he attempted to influence the council’s principal selection by having community leaders contact family of council members to use their influence to sway the votes of council members.


Some members of the UCHS Council who were involved in the principal selection process for the 2008-09 school year reported that they received phone calls from family members not involved in the school system requesting that they select someone other than Greg Bowles to be the UCHS principal. The family members had been contacted by community leaders with this request.

Absurd, isn’t it? That he’s been doing that for six or seven years.

And just last week he had the infamous Richard Hughes attempt to influence members of the Montgomery County Board of Education by intimidating their relatives.

Get a load of this email Hughes sent to the brother of newly-elected board member Kelly Johnson, obtained via records request:

Richard Hughes wrote:

Good Evening, Ben!

I hope you and your immediate and extended families are doing well and that your upcoming Christmas Holiday Season is one of the best ever!

Please put your future to be administrator hat on, read carefully the attachments and see if you can find thirty minutes over the Christmas Vacation to discuss it with your brother, Dr. Jon Kelly Johnson. He probably knows that you have been in MSU’s Ed Leadership Program for some time and that you, as I recall, aspire to become a school administrator, perhaps superintendent of Montgomery County some day; and you and I both know that could happen.

The attached document will not surprise you as I suspect it includes concepts that I have shared with some of my classes that you have taken, but it could seem a bit unusual to Dr. Johnson. I have tried to get an audience with him but either because of his busy schedule, or because he is under immense pressure to fire Dr. Powell, the current superintendent in Montgomery County, I have not been successful. I did however send him the document I am sending you.

If you are able to discuss it (the document) with him, I’d like for him to think about the future, when you might be superintendent and facing contract consideration. Dr. Powell has made some mistakes and I make mention of this in a second attachment, a full page advertisement I put in the Mt. Sterling Advocate. Yet, he has also done much good in MC. Not that I want to equate Dr. Powell or anyone else with Jesus, but we know how much good Jesus did and how the mob mentality of that day resulted in him being nailed to the cross. I would like for you, Sir, to attempt to persuade your brother–and him his fellow board members–to consider saving rather than firing the superintendent they have. Dr. Powell has enormous potential (which I also point out in the full page ad) and can become one of the best superintendents in our profession, I believe.

If Dr. Johnson is presently of the mindset that Dr. Powell should be fired (not renewing his contract), I hope he will change his mind. The following statement is not original with me but I believe it:

“Fools do not change their minds but wise people do. Wise people change their minds, not because of external pressure but because of internal convictions/principles. The internal convictions/principles of wise people often change because they receive additional information, additional data.”

My hope is that Dr. Johnson will keep an open mind, gather additional data/information, and that when the time comes he will be guided by internal convictions/principles, not external pressure.

Notice I am copying this message to your parents whom I consider to be my friends and your brother.


Richard Hughes, EdD
Instructor, Foundational and Graduate Studies in Education
Morehead State University
Morehead, Kentucky 40351
Phone: (859) 940-3265
“Our help is in the name of the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 124:8 “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so he giveth his beloved sleep.” Psalm 127: 2
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” II Chronicles 16:9

He emailed Johnson’s brother, in an attempt to intimidate, and had the audacity to copy the man’s parents on the message.

From his official Morehead State University account. After all we’ve already reported.

And not a small amount of intimidation. Hughes appears to have intimated that Johnson’s brother could face problems if he doesn’t assist because he’s a part of MSU’s education program.

Can you believe that? Intimidating a student and his family in an attempt to influence a school board member.

Just unbelievable.

Hughes has also emailed relatives of other board members and others making decisions regarding Powell’s employment. Unfortunately, some of those individuals have responded indicating that they’ve … wait for it … gone to law enforcement. For that reason, the other messages cannot yet be published. But they’re similar to the one above and don’t add too much to the story.