Sunday, April 19, 2015
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Board votes to remove Josh Powell
By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer

At a special meeting last Thursday, the Montgomery County Board of Education voted unanimously to remove Josh Powell as superintendent.
The move came after about an hour-long closed session to discuss his possible removal.

The decision came based on a report from the Lexington law firm of Sturgill, Turner, Barker and Moloney concerning an investigation it conducted into Powell’s activities as superintendent.

Board Vice Chair Bill Morgan made the motion to remove Powell. In the motion he cited reported findings from the Lexington’s firm investigation in removing Powell “for cause.”
Those findings claim:

1) The hiring of Anna Powell in the position of Director of Special Projects violated KRS 160.380(2)(e) and the district has not taken appropriate action to redress this violation.

2) Superintendent Powell sought to assert improper influence on site-based decision-making decisions.

3) Superintendent Powell has exhibited poor management in his dealings with district personnel.

4) Superintendent Powell failed to effectively manage personnel matters such as to reduce the potential legal exposure to the district and the board.

5) Superintendent Powell failed to disclose a minor misdemeanor conviction on his application for employment with the district.
A letter concerning the board’s action, including a summary of the charges, was sent to the Kentucky Dept. of Education for review by Commissioner Terry Holliday. It was dated April 10.

“The Montgomery County Board of Eduction seeks your approval of the removal of Superintendent Joshua E. Powell for cause pursuant to KRS 160.350(3),” board attorney Michelle Williams wrote in the letter. “An independent investigation of Superintendent Powell was conducted and is attached for your review.

“The Educational Professional Standards Board (EPSB) hearing against Superintendent Powell is still ongoing at this time,” the letter adds. “The witnesses who testified were admonished not to speak with the investigators until the hearing is concluded. It is my understanding that the EPSB hearing will resume on April 30, 2015.”

The letter states that a notice of the charges was provided to Powell pursuant to state statute.

The KDE confirmed receipt of the letter.
Under state statute, “a superintendent of schools may be removed for cause by a vote of four-fifths of the membership of a board of education and upon approval by the commissioner of education.

However, if the dismissal of the superintendent has been recommended by a highly skilled certified educator pursuant to KRS 158.6455 and the action is approved by the commissioner of education, the board shall terminate the superintendent’s contract.

“Written notice setting out the charges for removal shall be spread on the minutes of the board and given to the superintendent. The board shall seek approval by the commissioner of education for removing the superintendent. The commissioner of education shall investigate the accuracy of the charges made, evaluate the superintendent’s overall performance during the superintendent’s appointment and consider the educational performance of the students in the district. Within 30 days of notification, the commissioner of education shall either approve or reject the board’s request,” the statute states further.

School board members contacted by the Advocate said they had been advised by the board attorney not to comment.
Powell’s attorney, C. Ed Massey, issued a statement regarding the board’s decision.

“Given the action of the board, the commissioner will now have to conduct an investigation,” the statement read. “What is obvious is that irregardless of the outcome, it is certain that Dr. Powell won’t be the superintendent after June 30 when his contact expires.

“What is truly amazing is the amount of taxpayer money diverted away from the students of Montgomery County to prosecute a person whose contract expires in less than 90 days,” Massey added. “Someone should file an Open Records request to investigate this issue. The ultimate purpose of a board is to ensure a free and appropriate education for every child in the district. This ‘noise’ distracts from that purpose.”
In other action, the board:

• Approved the contract of acting superintendent Donald Pace.
• Accepted the resignation of Phil Rison as board secretary and appointed Pace to the position.

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