Lost in the spectacle of a governor who has totally lost his way, is the fact that April 10 is the deadline for the five defendants being sued by Jefferson County school superintendent Craig Pouncey to let Montgomery County Circuit Judge Roman Shaul know their intentions concerning the suit. It is expected they will all seek dismissals.
A regular readers know, this action was precipitated by an effort during last summer’s state superintendent search to discredit Pouncey as a candidate for Alabama’s top education job. Many, certainly most in the education community, felt Pouncey was the front runner. In fact, when the eight elected state board members and the governor each made a list of which candidates should be interviewed out of all the applicants, Pouncey was picked by seven of the nine. Only the governor and member Mary Scott Hunter did not think he should get an interview.
Nor did either of them vote for Pouncey when the final selection was made.
Central to this law suit is an anonymous smear sheet someone put together accusing Pouncey of not handling his doctoral dissertation for Samford University in 2009 in a proper and professional manner. Each elected board member got a copy of this info, but six of the eight testified to a legislative committee that they paid it little attention since it was unsigned.
However, two, Hunter and former board member Matt Brown, said they were very concerned about the accusations and Hunter testified that she not only made sure the state department of education legal counsel Juliana Dean got a copy, but she also contacted Tom Albritton, executive director of the Ethics Commission to tell him about it. Since the letter was not signed and could not be verified, the Ethics Commission could not investigate it. However, Hunter said in testimony to the legislative committee that she was unaware that this is the case.
The five defendants are former interim state superintendent Phillip Cleveland, Dean, two of her associates at the state department and Hunter.
There is no doubt that chicanery was afoot and that someone was trying to make sure Pouncey was not selected. Who was it? And why were they doing it? These are the questions educators want answered.
The answers have the potential to have far-reaching implications, not just for education, but for the political landscape as well.
Stay tuned. The clock is now ticking.