Commissioner backs attempt to ax Montgomery superintendent



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MOUNT STERLING, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky education commissioner has approved the Montgomery County school board's decision to remove Joshua Powell as superintendent but says Powell is still entitled to a due-process hearing.

Commissioner Terry Holliday wrote a letter Monday to school board chairwoman Alice Anderson, confirming the board had used "competent and relevant evidence" when it unanimously voted to remove Powell last month, The Lexington Herald-Leader reports (http://bit.ly/1ICfHpl).

Powell had been accused of improperly hiring his wife to a district director position and then not addressing the violation in question. Numerous employees had also complained of personnel management issues.

The board suspended Powell in January, prompting a lawsuit from him.

Powell's attorney, C. Ed Massey, says his client will seek a due-process hearing and "vehemently" denies the board members' allegations.

Academic achievement of students in Montgomery County improved since Powell became superintendent in 2011, but that alone was not cause to reject Powell's removal, Holliday said.

Holliday has encouraged the parties to reach a resolution so that the dispute will not be a distraction as the new school year approaches.

"I fear that a lengthy hearing and prolonged litigation regarding the matter may impose a heavy burden upon the students and community of Montgomery County," Holliday said in the letter.

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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com

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