Surprise! The Mt. Sterling Paper Noticed The School District’s Paid Out A Ton In Settlements

Too little, too late, really. And they only got part of the story correct.

Here’s a taste from the Mt. Sterling Advocate – May 25, 2017:

Former Montgomery County Schools’ employee Kelly Wallace has reached a $500,000 settlement in a lawsuit against former superintendent Josh Powell and the Montgomery County Board of Education.


As part of the settlement the defendants in the suit “neither admit nor deny liability of any sort.” The release of all claims “is made as a compromise to avoid expenses and to terminate all controversy and/or claims for injuries or damages of whatsoever kind, nature, known or unknown,” the settlement states.

The parties agree to bear their own costs.


She claimed to have suffered loss of wages and benefit, embarrassment, humiliation and mental and emotional distress.

There’s this gem at the end of the article:

The school district previously settled two other cases with former employees. Former childcare worker Jennifer Hall settled a lawsuit for $140,000 against the district, Powell and former director of childcare Kristi Carter. Former athletic director Gene Heffington received $150,000 for a “release of all claims.” He had not filed a lawsuit.

That’s how you know Tom Marshall and the paper didn’t put in much reporting effort.

Montgomery County Schools have paid out waaaay more than two settlements involving Joshua Powell.

Combined with Kelly Wallace, Montgomery County Schools has paid out a total of six monstrous settlements. Five of them I’ve reported on extensively since 2013. Another involved a mysterious school bus incident. It’s one that Alice Anderson, the board chair, once told me she didn’t believe was legitimate and was part of a cover-up. The board attorney loosely conveyed the same sentiment. As did people in Powell’s circle.

Once Jim Dusso settles (he will – he’s not ever going to be able to hold those corrupt fuckers accountable otherwise), that’ll make seven. Not to mention prior settlements in Powell’s previous school districts. Kentucky taxpayers, via insurance and other means, have been on the hook for millions upon millions of dollars.

Funny how that paper still can’t be bothered to do real reporting on the biggest and most expensive scandal to hit Montgomery County in decades. People there deserve better. It’s been gut-wrenching to watch those folks suffer – even as they went out of their way to help me report on one of the most insane scandals in the state. They’ve suffered. The local newspaper couldn’t be bothered to hold any of the powerful accountable. Just left everyone in the dark. Half-assed their way along.

Also hear a certain education reporter at the Herald-Leader has decided to do a bit on the settlements. So you can expect that to be just shy of mediocre. Can’t exactly claim credibility or generate interest in developing sources after deliberately ignoring the nightmare for nearly five years. If I could do it with no resources and for year after year? That reporter has no excuse. They, too, have failed Central Kentuckians who deserve better.

Now that I’ve had time to process the Montgomery County-Joshua Powell disaster and most of those involved have received some form of settlement? I’m ready to start sharing all the things (yes, all the things) I’ve never before published. So look for that in the coming months. Everything from recordings that the plaintiffs never released to emails from myriad characters to video of those responsible for the scandal(s).

A note to attorneys and school board members: Better get your Xanax and Klonopin refilled. Always told you I was a man of my word and would release everything when victims got justice. True to that word, the time has come.

Now for a shameless plug.

Want to see more years-long digging and reporting that results in real change in Kentucky? Here’s how:

You’ll help pay for open records requests, part of the hosting fees (let’s get real – there aren’t enough donations to cover that beast) and for postage.

When you shop via Amazon or sign up for Cricket, you help cover the expense of getting smartphones temporarily into the hands of sources who need to securely communicate without fear of retribution. That’s how I accomplished most of the work in Montgomery County. When you buy these silly magnets (they look better in real life!), you’re doing the same. You aren’t giving *me* money.

P.S. Matt Bevin finally reorganized the Education Professional Standards Board via executive order and he DESERVES PRAISE for it. Click here to access basic details – pages 7 and 8. More on that in the coming days. Note: What doesn’t deserve praise is Bevin’s decision to make EPSB actions appealable to the Kentucky Department of Education, which is a step back to pre-2000. That is a disaster waiting to happen and KDE has NO BUSINESS meddling with EPSB. Other than that, though, EPSB needed to be gutted and flushed.

Two Big Montgomery Co. Settlements

The TL;DR: massive payouts in two Joshua Powell scandals.

  • Jennifer Hall settled her case against Joshua Powell, Kristi Carter and Montgomery County Schools for the sum of $140,000.
  • Gene Heffington, who merely threatened to sue, got a sweet payout of $150,000. That’s right – Heffington, someone who played a major role in at least some of Powell’s scandals (this is not speculation, you can read all about it here in the archives), got a ton of cash.

Fun stuff, isn’t it? Jennifer Hall made something like $12 per hour, so she didn’t lose much in terms of income. Gene Heffington retired and has income. For there to be such huge payouts to both, it would appear that even an insurance company knows there’s disaster afoot.

Meanwhile, Jim Dusso is choosing to go to trial. Kelly Wallace is going to trial. And as of this week, Michelle Henry is choosing to go to trial. Even though Alice Anderson and the Montgomery County Board of Education is/are attempting to have the cases dismissed on myriad technicalities because they’re terrified to have any sort of integrity, apparently.

Can you imagine the trials?

Here’s the Hall settlement agreement:


Here’s Heffington’s:


You can see for yourself just how bad it’s going to get for Montgomery County.

There’s way more to come. Click here to help keep things going.

Everyone’s Still Gagging Over Trump

Donald J. Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, records obtained by The New York Times show. [NY Times]

Standard good old boy behavior in Kentucky. Former University of Kentucky board chairman Billy Joe Miles of Owensboro pleaded not guilty Monday to rape, sodomy and bribing a witness at a hearing in which the prosecutor said the alleged victim has received death threats and other harassment since the charges were filed. [H-L]

Donald Trump ramped up his feud with former Miss Universe Alicia Machado on Friday, calling her “disgusting” and accusing her of having a sex tape. [HuffPo]

Kathleen Smith, former University of Louisville President James Ramsey’s chief of staff, is out at the university’s fundraising arm, the U of L Foundation. [C-J/AKN]

We live in an era of increasing automation. But as machines make more decisions for us, it is increasingly important to understand the algorithms that produce their judgments. [ProPublica]

Glasgow Mayor Dick Doty readily accepted responsibility for erroneously signing an agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority and Glasgow Electric Plant Board. [Glasgow Daily Times]

At Monday night’s debate, Donald Trump was called out for stiffing the people who work for him. Trump has been accused of failing to pay hundreds of contractors. And so far, he hasn’t seemed very sorry. When asked about failing to pay someone by Hillary Clinton this week, Trump replied, “Maybe he didn’t do a good job and I was unsatisfied with his work.” [WaPo]

James W. Ebert, a lieutenant and assistant night shift commander for the Frankfort Police Department, will be sworn in as Richmond police chief Oct. 17. [Richmond Register]

Donald J. Trump has a cruel streak. He willfully causes pain and distress to others. And he repeats this public behavior so frequently that it’s fair to call it a character trait. Any single example would be off-putting but forgivable. Being shown many examples across many years should make any decent person recoil in disgust. [The Atlantic]

Interim Lewis County Schools Superintendent Donald W. Pace died unexpectedly on Monday. [Ashland Independent]

Suspicion is mounting about Donald Trump’s ties to Russian officials and business interests, as well as possible links between his campaign and the Russian hacking of U.S. political organizations. [TDB]

Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia are among the states challenging the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan, or CPP, in oral arguments Tuesday before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. [WFPL]

The U.S. Supreme Court opens its new term on Monday in uncharted territory, with an vacancy on the bench on a presidential Election Day now certain for the first time since Abraham Lincoln won re-election in 1864 at the height of the Civil War. [Reuters]

Spoiler alert! Montgomery County Schools are not and never were top ten. But you already knew that. [H-L]

On Wednesday, Congress was so determined to pass a law to sue Saudi Arabia that it overrode President Barack Obama’s veto. But possible backlash against America had top Republican leaders looking for someone else to blame Thursday. [HuffPo]

WANT TO HELP US? Use our Amazon links, sign up for Ting or Cricket and more. Check this page out to see how you can help us without ever giving us a dime of your own money. Or buy our silly magnets! [CLICK HERE]

It’s Late September Montgomery County Update Time And This One’s A Doozy

First, a couple Montgomery County Schools housekeeping tidbits:

  • Jennifer Hall settled her case for chump change, according to school board members. The district refuses to provide details despite them being a government agency.
  • Amanda Reffitt is allegedly close to doing the same. She flew to Kentucky from Alabama, where she now teaches, a few weeks ago to get the process started.
  • Michelle Henry is apparently still in negotiation. Insurance attorneys recently tried to have portions of her case thrown out and the judge refused to do so.
  • Kelly Wallace refuses to settle, wants to go to trial
  • Gene Heffington, who did not file suit, sent the board a demand letter and they’ve paid him off in a settlement. The district refuses to provide details despite them being a government agency.
  • Jim Dusso refuses to settle, wants to go to trial
  • The board’s insurance-appointed attorneys are in way over their heads

The board gives the excuse that they have no control over what their attorneys do, what actions they take, how they attempt to rip apart the people who have suffered and ultimately sued. So it’s a lot of fun watching them play games.

Since board member Donna Wilson (surprise! wonder why?) chose not to run for re-election, a former district superintendent is running in her place. Remember Dr. Freeman? He has no opponent. Both Alice Anderson and Sharon Smith-Breiner are also up for re-election without opponents.

I hear there’s been another major complained filed with the Office of Education Accountability regarding a board member. More on that to come later.

Recently, a member of the Montgomery County Board of Education attempted to not only blackmail me but bribe me. Choosing not to identify them for the time being because legal action may be necessary.

They threatened harm (IN WRITING! Creating a massive paper trail) if I complied with demands to share details in court about what I’ve learned regarding the school district. When that didn’t work, they literally sent me money that I promptly returned.

That school board member has created yet another stupid Montgomery County-related mess.

And if you want to help me finish reporting everything on that district, I ask that you chip in. If you want the book to eventually be closed and for everything to be uncovered, your help is needed.

Click here to chip in. Keep this jalopy afloat. Help me finish up the investigation and pay for gazillions of outstanding open records requests. And, now, to help with the mess one ignorant board member has created.

We’ve come too far to give up now.

Allegations Of Testing Fraud Still Plague Montgomery County Schools’ Previous Administration

Montgomery County Schools. Three words that make longtime readers of Page One cringe.

So get ready to cringe a bit because it’s time to yank another thread.

Sources within Montgomery County Schools and the Kentucky Department of Education allege that the district, while under Joshua Powell’s leadership, bused students to the Clay Community Center during regular instruction time in order to prepare for the ACT. In case you’re wondering, that’s in contradiction to Kentucky Department of Education guidelines.

Check out this note that was captured, along with a schedule for the test prep:


KDE doesn’t permit ACT prep to take place outside of the classroom. Districts can’t just take kids out of the classroom solely to prepare for the ACT.

Check out this Powerpoint presentation from the KDE site:

Isn’t that fascinating?

Terry Holliday, while still Commissioner of Education, allegedly turned a blind eye.

The above is just a taste of what’s to come.

If anyone in Montgomery County has additional information, get in touch with me. You don’t have to use that form to send your message – but you’ll find the email address there.

King Coal Is Still In Severe Denial

You already know Friends of Coal and the Kentucky Coal Association exist only to make a handful of people wealthy. They use far-right Republican extremists as spokespeople (like the Coal Association used RPK’s Tres Watson for years). They decimate Appalachia, take from the poor and ignore Kentucky. It’s all bullshit hype and panicked, worried people fall for it without fail. [H-L]

Donald Trump restructured his campaign leadership Tuesday in a desperate attempt to turn around his flagging presidential bid. [HuffPo]

Of the 87 who died in an accident involving motorcycles, 57 were not wearing a helmet, and neither were any of 19 who died while on an ATV. [Floyd County Times]

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign appears to be soliciting foreign donations despite multiple warnings and a criminal complaint filed with the Department of Justice. [The Hill]

Two of the victims at the heart of a sexual assault and harassment case against an associate professor are angry and say UK is protecting the professor at the expense of his victims, other students and the public. [Kentucky Kernel]

When it comes to the substance of Donald Trump’s speech proposing “extreme vetting” of immigrants to the United States, retired Navy Adm. James Stavridis on Tuesday indicated that the Republican nominee lacked specifics. [Politico]

Hal Rogers joined members of the Chamber of Commerce in touring the Somerset coworking center — billed as being a space for small businesses or those striking out on their own to “connect, create and collaborate.” [Commonwealth Journal]

With hopes of landing the U.S. Senate candidates and high-profile surrogates to represent the presidential candidates, plans are in place for the sixth annual Brushy Fork Forum in Vine Grove. [News-Enterprise]

Facing allegations from former city firefighter Jeffrey Queen that he was subjected to a hostile work environment during his five years in the Bowling Green Fire Department, the city of Bowling Green on Friday acknowledged the existence of a video showing a firefighter burning the Quran, one of many accusations of misconduct in a lawsuit filed by Queen earlier this week. [BGDN]

Over the past decade, the news about Kentucky’s coal industry has been reliably bad. The latest numbers show the state is mining the smallest amount of coal since about 1934, and there are fewer coal miners employed here than anytime in the 20th century. [WFPL]

Those following the Powell Scandal(s) will likely want to keep an eye on this. A school district is hoping voters will help replace what might be the most out-of-shape high and middle schools in Kentucky. [WAVE3]

This is what happens when an illegally-hired former superintendent’s wife heads south. We hear it’s motivating the OAG to seek restitution on behalf of the Montgomery County Board of Education. [Page One]

On Thursday, a Northern Kentucky woman was sentenced to almost 19 years in prison for providing illegal drugs to her daughter in prison; her daughter subsequently died of an overdose. [H-L]

Donald Trump is doing a great job of making the case against his own presidential candidacy, President Barack Obama said at a fundraiser for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Monday. [HuffPo]

WANT TO HELP US? Use our Amazon links, sign up for Ting or Cricket and more. Check this page out to see how you can help us without ever giving us a dime of your own money. [CLICK HERE]

Anna Powell Was Terminated In Florida

Anna Powell, the illegally-hired wife of former Montgomery County Schools superintendent Joshua Powell (himself fired), was terminated from her job in Florida in June. From the Santa Rosa County School District’s board meeting minutes:

And not for budgetary reasons.

The job was posted a month prior:

That will likely make you wonder how she was able to perform at the director level in Montgomery County but wasn’t good enough to get renewed at an easier job in the Florida panhandle.

The fascinating thing about Powell’s time in Florida is how she got her job. Any guesses? Her personnel file from the Santa Rosa County School District contained a wealth of information.

Phil Rison – long after being advised he was let go from the district – signed her employment verification:


You’ll note that Cindy Kincaid, Joshua Powell’s former secretary and confidant, notarized the document. At the time a man named Donald Pace was acting superintendent in the district. It’s safe to assume, based on claims made by those working in central office at the time, Rison and Kincaid hid the Florida documentation from Pace or for whatever reason did not share it with him. In part because Pace made clear to Anna Powell in a scandalous letter that her leadership was ineffective, she was illegally hired, wasn’t a chance in hell she’d be allowed to remain in the district.

Doesn’t help matters that at the time the only person in the district who could provide professional references like this was the superintendent. That was a policy instituted by Joshua Powell.

Anna claimed she left Montgomery County Schools so she could relocate to Florida:

But you already know she was ousted, as illustrated in links above.

Here’s her entire application:


Interesting to note that her references included Phil Rison, Lisa Stone and Shannon White. Three of the people deeply involved in so much of the Powell world.

On top of it all, she attempted to file for unemployment benefits in Kentucky:

She was apparently unsuccessful.

Seems unfathomable that less than a year ago the entire circle was claiming she was the top pick to run a huge portion of a public school district.