Last evening the Montgomery County Board of Education held a special session to hire a large Lexington law firm to investigate embattled superintendent Joshua Powell. It would appear that our reading of the tea leaves was pretty spot-on.
Watch the meeting for yourself — note: quality may suck but it’s the audio that’s most important:
There were two key moments. When Dr. Kelly Johnson read off a list of charges for the new firm to investigate and when Donna Wilson was the only no vote against the investigation.
What that means in school board speak: the board believes it has more than enough evidence to terminate Powell. And this will be Donna Wilson’s last term as a member of the board.
Beyond last night’s meeting, the local paper — the Mt. Sterling Advocate — has some interesting coverage from the point of view and direction of Powell.
Here’s a taste:
Actions against Powell by the Education Professional Standards Board are not sufficient to remove him as superintendent, Powell claims in his court action. The EPSB has not issued any findings or conclusions of law against Powell, he adds. In addition, Powell’s complaint claims that any findings or conclusions of law are subject to the due process rights.
The complaint alleges in a EPSB hearing a current member of the school board testified that the board failed to follow the recommendation of counsel regarding suspending Powell.
The board never claimed EPSB charges were part of his suspension. Additionally, no EPSB findings have been made because the process isn’t finished. It won’t be until June/July of this year.
Massey says it is his understanding the EPSB hearing involving Powell “was stopped in progress, and that the process will be delayed indefinitely.”
Alicia Sneed, director of legal services for the EPSB, told the Advocate last week, “Due to conflicting calendars, we have potential dates to resume the hearing in February, but nothing is official. Since the matter is still pending, I cannot tell you anymore at this time.”
Massey has most likely been deliberately fed misinformation by his client. Because we hear from Powell’s folks that the hearing will resume in just about two weeks.
Here’s where things get juicy:
In his letter to Williams, Massey claims that “Pursuant to my conversation with Dr. Powell, the interruption in proceedings occurred after Donna Wilson, a Montgomery County School Board member, testified regarding Dr. Powell’s suspension.”
“As I understand it, her testimony was that the board of education failed to follow the advice of their counsel as it relates to a suspension. Needless to say, it can be inferred from this testimony that you and I are in agreement as to whether or not a suspension should be imposed against a superintendent,” Massey claims.
“Now that there is testimony from a board member that indicates the board failed to follow legal directives, I will be subpoenaing that information from the EPSB. I understand that you will be filing a motion to have that stricken from the record. Notwithstanding, the evidence has already come forward and is therefore no longer protected under the attorney/client privilege, as the client has elected to break the confidence,” Massey claims.
Since this is no longer an issue of attorney/client privilege, sources tell us Donna Wilson lied. Attorneys merely gave board members the pros and cons of suspending and not suspending and left the decision up to the board.
But the real issue? Donna Wilson has created a huge problem for herself by revealing (albeit dishonestly) information from a closed session of the board. And the Powell team has used information UNDER GAG ORDER from the EPSB against the board.
This means the board needs to figure out a way to oust Wilson for meddling, as she has clearly done. She’s violated the public trust. And EPSB can chap asses up one side and down the other for what Powell’s team has done in violation of a gag order.
Also kind of kills Powell’s talking points about other members of the board allegedly leaking information from closed session. Since that’s what his pal Donna Wilson has done on his behalf.
And you wonder why there’s turmoil in Montgomery County. HA!