Corruption & Crazy Meet In Montgomery County

Last week the embarrassingly bad newspaper in Montgomery County — the Mt. Sterling Advocate — published another silly article about Joshua Powell and the Montgomery County Schools winning the “Best Places to Work” award. Which we’ve previously reported is something you literally pay for.

Take a look:


FROM LAST WEEK’S PAPER

11th Annual Best Places to Work in Kentucky award winners announced

-SNIP-

Local winning companies are Traditional Bank Inc. (medium company), Edward Jones, Farm Credit Mid-America and Montgomery County School System (large company).

The competition is a multi-year initiative designed to motivate companies in the commonwealth to focus, measure and move their workplace environments toward excellence.

Powell is sticking it to them and not even giving them a reach-around.

But this week? The paper gave Powell gobs of space to attack the board of education without bothering to give anyone the opportunity to comment or prove just how wrong the man is.

Have a look:


THE MT. STERLING ADVOCATE’S HUGE POWELL SPREAD

Massey claims the case is being watched closely by the Kentucky School Administrators Association because it will set a precedent regarding suspension of superintendents.

“If they are allowed to do this it means boards can suspend superintendents for any reason,” he said.

Okay, stop laughing. Because here’s the deal: Duh? The board can hire the superintendent and should be permitted to suspend the superintendent. Just as the superintendent can suspend employees for any reason.

Massey argues the board cannot remove a superintendent without a statement of charges and an investigation by Terry Holliday, the state education commissioner, into the accuracy of the charges and an evaluation of his overall performance and educational performance of students in the district.

That’s where Massey’s flat-out lying to the small town newspaper and they’re too lazy to check him on it. The law allows for the board to terminate a superintendent, they provide that list of charges to the superintendent and to the commissioner of education. The commissioner has 30 days to respond. There’s nothing requiring an investigation and there’s absolutely nothing required on the performance or student performance front. But that’s Powell’s big defense — that he’s some magical test score crusader who changes lives in just a matter of months.

They’ll both likely develop intestinal discomfort when they learn a full-scale academic audit is going to be considered by the board once Powell is terminated.

The craziness in the paper continued:

Powell alleges the decisions made by the board Tuesday night are another example of the board trying to cause harm. He claims board members are “absolutely powerless outside of a board meeting” and that restricting access to a public school district in which four of his children attend is “ludicrous and another example of the board abusing power,” adding that suggesting he be granted permission from Morgan outside of a board meeting is contrary to state and federal laws.

It’s time for some EPOs, to say the least.

Powell says he has not participated in various school activities such as athletic events his children participate in and has not visited the schools his children attend, “which has caused great inconvenience and great harm to my family.”

Guess who rarely visited those schools and rarely, if ever, attended athletic events.

He’s trying to claim there’s a conspiracy to oust him:

“[D]iscussions are occurring outside of board meetings and current members have no intent of complying with law.

“Additionally, when viewing the items on the Feb. 10 board agenda following the proposed injunction, there existed strong evidence to support the fact that many decisions have already been made prior to public meetings and the results of the meeting confirmed the suspicion,” Powell claims.

Spoiler alert: it’s not a conspiracy. The entire community wants him to be fired.

Here’s where Powell reveals Donna Wilson was part of his own conspiracy to wreak havoc, only to turn on him upon realizing she’d been manipulated into lying and breaking the law:

“I am most disappointed and heartbroken by the actions of board member Donna Wilson. … She witnessed the atrocities committed by the board members and has discussed it with me multiple times during the past two years,” Powell alleges.

“In addition to this, Mrs. Wilson disclosed that the board clearly acted against the advice of attorneys Larry Bryson and Shelly Williams regarding the legality of suspending me. Mrs. Wilson voted against the suspension on two occasions but caved in tonight and voted to extend my suspension, “Powell claims.

“I do not know whether she relied on bad information or caved to the pressure but Mrs. Wilson may very well have lost her immunity for willfully and intentionally violating the law, just as the other four members have,” Powell alleges.

Crazy beams on high, for sure. Because there have been so many atrocities… just… wow. If that’s not retaliation against Wilson, we don’t know what is.

Then the paper gave the man almost an entire page to further go berserk.

Suspended superintendent Josh Powell claims the allegations a newly hired Lexington firm has been asked to investigate involving him are “false, defamatory, reckless and an attempt to retaliate against me for reporting the board and individual members for the same conduct during the Jan. 5, Jan. 7 and Jan. 10 meeting.”

He claims the hiring of Sturgill, Turner, Barker and Maloney “adds to the already frivolous spending allocated to Michelle Williams and Larry Bryson to investigate me for EPSB matters.”

Uh… pretty sure this all started as a result of tons of lawsuits and other complaints filed against Powell. And Larry Bryson resigned. But frivolous spending? Like spending $1.5 million on Chromebooks and still not having policies and procedures in place to protect them? Or spending tens of thousands of dollars on construction for his wife’s office without board approval?

Financial mismanagement — “In addition to dramatic improvement in the area of student achievement, I have helped lead the district into unparalleled financial management and transparency as well as initiated processes that far exceed typical financial practices in the commonwealth. … The previous board chair reviewed each bill every month and local auditor Artie White at my request scrutinized us beyond contractual obligations in the ongoing audits of our district, as I have requested as much from him,” Powell claims.

“In addition to this, many of the same disgruntled people reported me for improper financial practice,” he alleges. “The State Auditor’s Office completed an intensive and comprehensive five-month audit of our district and gave our district a clean bill of health and also reported that the auditor’s office discovered that the organization was performing exceptionally well.”

Powell claims a “plethora of information” exists to dispute the allegations and “the district has maintained superb documentation to prove it.”

We’ll deal with student achievement at a later date. But it appears Powell has at the very least attempted to utilize the special education program to manipulate test scores. Otherwise, all the special ed teachers wouldn’t constantly be screaming from the rafters. And it doesn’t help that there’s audio of Powell discussing going home to work on test scores. We’ll publish it in a few weeks, as it’s currently part of an ongoing lawsuit against Powell.

Fascinating that he admits former chair Kenney Gulley approved his spending each month. Because the other board members tell me they rarely had the opportunity to review monthly spending and the current board attorney was kept in the dark by Mike Owsley of ELPO. In fact, Powell, according to current and former board members, refused to deal with Michelle Williams at all. She wasn’t even provided copies of lawsuits as they were filed against Powell and the board. The entire Powell legal operation has been so shady that circuit court records appear to show that the district was never served with a copy of Powell’s suit and didn’t obtain a copy until board chair Alice Anderson physically went to pay for a copy.

That’s some unreal small town nonsense.

Hiring practices — “I had to quickly change policies that were, in my view, illegal and unethical regarding hiring,” Powell alleges. “I have carefully and purposefully adhered to strict hiring guidelines in an attempt to eliminate biased practices and, also, to empower the very individuals that are responsible for their respective schools. This allegation is as surprising and unfounded as the rest, especially since I am not alone responsible for the hiring of any employee…

Reality: the state auditor says Powell illegally hired his wife. In exchange for the hiring of Powell’s wife, Anna, there are allegations that Powell hired relatives of Phil Rison as payback/thank-yous, as Rison was one of the individuals involved in the hiring process.

But unfounded? What’s unfounded is anyone in their right mind claiming that hiring people to work in major positions requiring licensing… without being licensed… is anything but corrupt.

Here’s where you have to try not to laugh:

Hostile work environment/unprofessional conduct — “Past employees, including board members, and those who were held to a higher standard of conduct (e.g. professionalism, civility and performance) may report that I have created a hostile work environment because they have confused their interactions with me with the practice of accountability, which was quite unfamiliar to some.

Again, the board is clearly alleging this in order to produce harm, especially due to the miraculous changes that have been made since my arrival in the areas of work environment and professionalism,” Powell claims.

“The board has been made aware and been presented with various documentation that suggested the district has made remarkable gains in civility, workplace engagement, school culture, and working conditions,” Powell says, citing the 2014 Best Places to Work award as an example.

Because it’s professional and civil to tell Michelle Goins Henry to watch out for her little family, to repeatedly try to arrest Jennifer Hall and take her on a bogus frog march orchestrated for the newspaper despite the county attorney and law enforcement telling Powell she was a whistleblower, to attack every member of the school board on bizarre personal levels, to use taxpayer-funded equipment and communications services to develop mind-boggling schemes with people like Richard Hughes.

That award, though? Hahahaha.

Powell went on for paragraph after paragraph, claiming he’d refused to take part in alleged illegal and unethical efforts pushed by board members, again attacking Alice Anderson and Sharon Smith-Breiner. He’s even claiming he’s a… wait for it…

“I intervened when I should have and have refused inappropriate requests. I have reported to the appropriate agencies their unacceptable behaviors relating to personnel and district management, as well as other actions of the board and individual members and their subsequent allegations against me constitute a prime example of Whistleblower retaliation,” Powell alleges.

We’ll wait while you stop laughing.

Pro-tip: Whistleblowing usually happens before getting caught red-handed BY POLICE in an attempt to retaliate against actual whistleblowers.

Is that a joke from the newspaper? Were they publishing that just so we could make everybody laugh?

Powell claims that due to the ongoing harm caused to he and his family, “I promise to seek every avenue available in order to provide relief for the damages that I have incurred. More importantly, I am in the process of taking steps to hold this board and the individual members accountable for grossly violating law and ethics; and I believe their behavior could have a negative impact on all the school districts in the commonwealth if they are not held accountable for their actions.

“For boards and individual board members to make decisions based on retaliation, contempt and hatred is an abuse of power and, more importantly, extremely damaging to the employees and children of a school district,” Powell alleges. “The inappropriate behaviors exemplified by this board set public education in the Commonwealth of Kentucky back at least 50 years; and if it is not aggressively addressed will have negative ramifications across the state.”

That, dear reader, is what people living in the reality-based community call an extreme case of projection. Powell is projecting what he is alleged to have done onto the people attempting to hold him accountable for his own actions and behavior. He does the same to journalists attempting to report on the matters.

The paper closed with the following in an effort to further keep its readers ignorant:

Powell reiterated that he has “considerable concern, even fear” for school employees, including his wife “and most importantly, the children of the district.” He said he alos worries about the children of other districts who may be negatively impacted by the reported recent actions of the school board here.

“As stated in previous correspondence, I offer this as a plea for assistance from local, state and national entities,” Powell said.

Mind blown? It’s some poop house rat crazy stuff.

Shameful. The only media outlet in the community there that’s supposed to support and inform its readership.

And people wonder why Montgomery Countians turn to Page One for the real story about Montgomery County Schools.