Joshua Powell’s EPSB Hearing Begins Today

Montgomery County Schools superintendent Joshua Powell’s trial with at the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) begins today.

Here’s what we know so far about what he’s been charged with, based on documents obtained from a central office source close to Powell.

Powell, according to the EPSB pre-hearing memo his underlings provided, is charged with wrongdoing involving the following individuals:

  • Kelly Wallace — She was fired/targeted by Powell for filing a Title IX complaint with the Office of Civil Rights
  • Jim Dusso — He was fired/retaliated against for filing a complaint with the EPSB after Powell directed him to alter Kelly Wallace’s evaluations to show that she shouldn’t be re-hired
  • Jessie Bacon — Someone we haven’t really written too much about but have mentioned in the past. Powell is alleged to have retaliated against him by not re-hiring him because he backed up Jim Dusso’s complaint
  • Gene Heffington — Powell is alleged to have demoted him and extorted him into early retirement in exchange for removing a letter of demotion from his personnel file after he, too, backed Jim Dusso up at the EPSB
  • Michelle Goins-Henry — Powell, as you know by now, is alleged to have falsified/misrepresented the facts relating to her performance as an employee
  • Nepotism — The illegal hiring of his wife, Anna Powell, as “Director of Special Projects” ring a bell? The State Auditor of Public Accounts said she was illegally hired, that her job description was illegally altered, that there’s nepotism like woah. Two auditors will be testifying before the EPSB to detail everything that occurred.

If found guilty on any count, it would appear the following bits of law would apply:

KRS 161.120(1)(c)

Committing any act that constitutes fraudulent, corrupt, dishonest, or immoral conduct. If the act constitutes a crime, conviction in a criminal proceeding shall not be a condition precedent to disciplinary action

And KRS 161.120(1)(m)

Violating the professional code of ethics for Kentucky school certified personnel established by the Education Professional Standards Board through the promulgation of administrative regulation;

Along with 16 KAR 1:020 Section 1(3)(c) and possibly KRS 160.380.

Powell, despite claiming to embrace transparency, has chosen to keep the two-week hearing/trial private. Which means the public won’t get to see what really went on until it comes out either in separate lawsuits or when the EPSB releases its final report in June or July of this year.

Meanwhile, Powell begins his first full week of suspension from Montgomery County Schools while the district begins its investigation.

Most of the attorneys (not people involved, just folks watching from a distance — people we’d consider experts in the field of employment law) we’ve spoken to expect Powell to file suit in an attempt to secure an injunction and temporarily get his job back. Though, we can’t imagine a circuit court judge siding with him because an investigation cannot be carried out with Powell present. If Powell can suspend people with pay pending investigation, the board should be able to do the same.

With so many questions surrounding Powell’s contract, the unethical at best and illegal at worst behavior of the previous board, multiple lawsuits, pending investigations involving multiple government agencies combined with a damning report from the State Auditor… the likelihood of a judge defying the elected board’s wishes seems slim.