Unbelievably Unethical: Terry Holliday, et al, Still Serve As References For Powell

Thanks to Florida’s open records laws, we’ve obtained a copy of Joshua Powell’s February 20, 2015 application for employment at the Indian River County school district. Powell, we shared with you last Saturday, was in the running to become that school district’s superintendent. But the Vero Beach community, according to sources on the school board there, rejected him after reaching out to Montgomery County Schools and the Kentucky Department of Education.

Gonna bury the real meat of this article, so you’ll just have to deal with it.

Here’s Powell’s cover letter:


Bold emphasis ours:

February 20, 2015

Board Chairman
Indian River School Board
1990 25th Street
Vero Beach, FL 32960

To whom it may concern:

I offer this letter and attachments as my formal interest in the Superintendent position of the Indian River County School District.

I am in the process of completing my ninth year as a public school district superintendent and have gained a wide range of experience. I have led three very different school districts to phenomenal achievement in virtually every aspect of school functioning, especially in the areas of school finance, student achievement, and employee morale. Along with this, I have demonstrated the courage and conviction needed to make difficult decisions and have navigated through the various obstacles associated with transforming districts that persistently performed poorly into high performing districts.

I have a true passion for public education and feel strongly that school leaders must strive for excellence in every area of school and district functioning. My expectations are high due to the fact that I sincerely believe that public education is the saving grace for both children and communities. With this, I have always worked tirelessly to ensure that all students achieve at high levels and have led in a manner that has had a real and meaningful impact on those that are passionate and dedicated to improving the lives of children.

I have an uncanny talent to solve difficult issues and pride myself in having the ability to be creative and innovative in doing so. I often view challenges as being unique opportunities to implement beneficial change and have a history of achieving extraordinary results.

I have earned advanced degrees in clinical psychology (M.A.), school counseling (Rank I), and have a doctoral degree in Education Leadership and Organizational Development from the University of Louisville. My dissertation and continued interest in the areas of workplace behaviors and organizational achievement has served me well as a district leader.

My experience, passion, education and proven track record has prepared me to be the next Indian River Superintendent. I am in the prime of my career and have a large family including five, young children and a wife to accompany me on a new adventure. I would very much appreciate an opportunity to interview and am excited about the prospect of joining the district team.


Joshua E. Powell

You’ll note that he didn’t mention he’d been suspended from Montgomery County Schools several weeks prior or that he was currently in the midst of a major hearing at the Education Professional Standards Board.

You’ll also likely remember that February 20 was well more than a month after Terry Holliday had received information from the school board regarding Powell’s suspension and the related investigation. Holliday will likely claim he was unaware that he was being used as a reference but that certainly rings hollow.

Check out his resume:


Unfortunately for Powell, his Montgomery County achievements aren’t exactly based in reality. Powell claims that the district “had significant increase in working conditions” and “maintained positive growth in employee culture, civility, and engagement” — both pretty far off the mark. He’s been repeatedly sued for the opposite, we’ve reported on it for nearly two years and the school board fired him in part for those problems.

He also claimed the district’s financial reserve was “increased and maintained” — something we’ve already disproved. The district’s contingency fund is more than $3.5 million lower than when he took the helm.

The Chinese language program? Such a disaster that the school board gave it the boot last week.

Chromebook initiative? Well, you’ve read all about that.

Here’s his CV — complete with a presentation involving Larry Bailey and some additional events that were set to take place through March:


The best part? Definitely Powell’s references:


Listing the Commissioner of Education, after all that’s gone on, as a reference isn’t something that’s going to look good for Holliday.

Listing Ed Massey, Powell’s current attorney in his employment case, and Wayne Young of KASA, Powell’s previous attorney? Wow. Just wow.

Gulley and Murphy are both former school board members who had to give up their spots on the board because of the myriad messes.

Richard Hughes is the MSU guy who facilitated Powell’s massive misinformation advertising campaign.

And Artie White? The district’s former auditor (more on that tomorrow)? This is at least the second time White’s served as a reference for Powell. According to CPAs we’ve spoken with, it’s potentially so unethical he could lose his licensure.

Now you see why there’s significant concern within Montgomery County and the larger education community that Terry Holliday is dragging his feet in approving or denying Joshua Powell’s termination. He’s had nearly a month to make a decision. The longer he delays, the more Powell receives in compensation, of course. But it appears increasingly that Holliday is a major enabler of the problems in Montgomery County Schools. Serving as a reference for Powell? Unreal.