This Is What I’m Forced To Fight Against

Here’s another look at why your support is needed.

In mid-December 2014 we unveiled that now-retired assistant superintendent of Montgomery County Schools, Phil Rison, was under investigation by the Education Professional Standards Board.

In light of Rison’s petty attempt to identify our sources for the purposes of embarrassment and retaliation, let’s take a look at part of that case.

Here’s the letter former EPSB attorney Alicia Sneed sent to Rison’s (Joshua Powell’s) attorney at the time:


Text of that letter:

Dear Mr. Preist:

Recently, we discussed Mr. Rison’s case during a telephone call. You asked if I was going to dismiss the case against Mr. Rison now that his co-respondent was set for a hearing. I cannot dismiss Mr. Rison’s case because I have strong evidence that he was involved in violations of the Professional Code of Ethics. I am confident that I can prove that Mr. Rison, as head of the interview committee, recommended the hire of Anna Powell because it was what his superintendent wanted, and that in exchange for the hiring committee’s recommendation, Mr. Rison’s daughter and brother were hired by Montgomery County Schools.

Although you may argue that I have merely a circumstantial case against Mr. Rison and that he acted in the best interest of students of Montgomery County Schools, I believe that the evidence will be clear. Mr. Rison’s family and Mr. Rison benefitted from him carrying out his co-respondent’s wishes. Mr. Rison interviewed Anna Powell for a position she legally could not take. When he recommended her for the position, the position description had to be modified so she could even take the position and I intend to present testimony that hiring a person for $90,000+ salary who cannot supervise either certified or classified staff is a misuse of funds.

Mr. Rison knew that Anna Powell was the superintendent’s spouse, and therefore could not legally take a position that required her to supervise others, but he recommended her anyway. If there was not collusion between himself and the superintendent in this matter, then Mr. Rison was purposefully trying to get his co-respondent removed as superintendent. If that is true, that would also be a violation of the Professional Code of Ethics. I anticipate that his co-respondent might make this argument in his defense, especially since it known in the community that Mr. Rison was in the running for the superintendent’s position prior to the hire of his co-respondent.

After Anna Powell was hired by the district, Mr. Rison’s daughter was hired in an Occupational Therapy Position for which she had to be issued a temporary license pursuant to KRS 319A.100 and pursuant to that statute she could only practice under the supervision of a licensed occupational therapist. Mr. Rison’s brother was also recently hired, even though he has retired from education. The position for which he was hired, high school athletic director, has plenty of individuals who are qualified for the role currently available for hire, and therefore his hiring is questionable under KRS 161.605(3).

Furthermore, I have information that Mr. Rison may have conspired to have Amanda Reffitt pink-slipped due to her affair with another staff member, Chris Barrier. Mr. Barrier was married to an educator in the district that Mr. Rison mentored. I intend to argue that Mr. Rison’s co-respondent handled a problem for Mr. Rison and Mr. Rison owed the co-respondent. Also, the co-respondent has made remarks that he was trying to create a dynasty in Montgomery County Schools. It seems by hiring Mr. Rison’s daughter and brother and by Mr. Rison assisting in hiring the co-respondent’s wife that the co-respondent is indeed trying to create some sort of “powerful group or family that maintains its position for a considerable time.”

Mr. Rison was also aware that his co-respondent blamed Kelly Wallace for filing a Title IX complaint with United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. Mr. Rison may deny that he was aware of his co-respondent’s belief or that Ms. Wallace was pink-slipped from the district first and foremost because his co-respondent wanted her gone, but I have credible witnesses who will testify that Mr. Rison was aware of his co-respondent’s determination to retaliate against Wallace for her “betrayal.”

Although I am convinced I do not need Mr. Rison’s testimony against his co-respondent to successfully prosecute the case against him, I am interested to hear what he has to say regarding this matter. Therefore, I am extending an offer to meet with Mr. Rison. During this meeting, I will not use anything he says to me against him at a later date and he may use this meeting to convince me of his innocence or to provide me with information he believes will clear his name.

Please assure Mr. Rison that regardless of my current conviction that he was co-conspirator with his supervisor/co-respondent, I am willing to listen to what he has to say with an open mind. My understanding is that prior to the hire of his co-respondent that Mr. Rison was highly responded in the community and I know that he is a deacon in his church, so I do not believe that his conduct was malicious. I want to use this meeting to give Mr. Rison the opportunity to present a defense or offer information that he believes will be mitigating or exculpatory. I cannot promise him that what he tells me will result in an offer of dismissal, but I am willing to allow him to convince me that he deserves lenience or a dismissal.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you,

Alicia A. Sneed

Guess who’ll likely be called to testify at Rison’s hearing on August 19th and 20th.

Rison ultimately signed an agreed order with EPSB, admitting that there was plenty of evidence to prove he played a role in Anna Powell’s illegal hiring:

Rison maintains his innocence but acknowledges that the evidence is such that at a hearing in this matter the Board could find his conduct violated both KRS 161.120 and 16 KAR 1:020, the Professional Code of Ethics for Kentucky School Certified Personnel.

And admitted to what is effectively bid-rigging in layman terms:

Mr. Rison concedes that the project specifications he prepared for soliciting the quotes were written such that Big Ass Fans equipment would likely be the only product that would suffice.

By emails dated October 29, 2013., Mr. Rison sought the KDE’s permission to buy the equipment directly from Big Ass Fans without issuing an actual invitation for bids.

That’s on top of all of the Title IX problems Rison’s involved in or directly responsible for:

  • Investigation Uncovers Massive Spending Scandal In Montgomery Co Schools Involving Phil Rison, Others [May 11, 2015]
  • Montgomery County Funds STILL Unreported In Title IX Documentation [June 1, 2015]
  • Eyebrow-Raising MoCo Title IX Data [June 2, 2015]
  • Records Don’t Support Montgomery County Schools’ Title IX Booster Spending For Facilities Claims [June 15, 2015]

On top of the special education testing mess investigated by the Kentucky Department of Education:

  • Kentucky Department Of Education Confirms Testing Violations In Montgomery County Schools [May 18, 2015]
  • The Commissioner of Education Was Deposed In Joshua Powell’s Termination Case, Not Good For Powell [July 28, 2015]

On top of being accused by Joshua Powell of having stalked Powell’s targets for him.

On top of there being police reports and secret recordings made by police proving Rison was directly involved in attempting to retaliate against a whistleblower:

  • Police Report Seems To Prove Retaliation Scheme [January 26, 2015]
  • Secret Audio Affirms Whistleblower Retaliation Claims In Montgomery Co [May 15, 2015]

After all of that, Rison is still moving ahead with a due process hearing and inevitable legal action. He’s opening himself up to the will of various investigating agencies and the Montgomery County Board of Education.

Rison is now attempting to force me into identifying countless confidential sources throughout Montgomery County and state government. Something I will not do. Something I wouldn’t do — even if there wasn’t a verifiable history (police reports, police recordings) of Rison and his colleagues retaliating against these people. Attacking the messenger when there are so many government documents, police reports, audio recordings, videos, investigations and witnesses will not work and we will not stand for it.

Kentucky has a shield law but fighting these corrupt shysters isn’t free or easy. Your support is needed. If you’ve ever gotten anything from this website? If you want to see this thing through to the end? If you recognize the importance of stopping these people once and for all? Please chip in.