By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—In his 2009 application to become Kentucky’s State School Superintendent, Michael Sentance claimed to be a “Highly accomplished Educator with more than 27 years experience and success.”
Sentance received admission to the Massachusetts Bar in 1979, however, according to data provided by the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers of the Supreme Judicial Court dated August 26, 2016, his law license is under administrative suspension. The suspension appears to be for nonpayment of dues.
In his June 6, 2016, letter to the Alabama State Board of Education, Sentance writes about “moral imperative” and “best public school educators” who, in this State, requires being not only certified, but also keeping those certifications current.
Winning as a dark horse candidate over credentialed educators with more actual experience, Sentance’s hiring is being shaded by an increasingly darkening cloud of suspicion.
According to sources within the system speaking on background, Board of Education Pro Tem, Mary Scott Hunter, was the driving force behind Sentance’s hiring. In a letter to State’s Attorney General, Sen. Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) is seeking an investigation into alleged irregularities in the selection process.
Dial and Sen. Quinton Ross (D-Montgomery) filed a joint resolution calling for a joint legislative committee to investigate confidentiality issues related to complaints lodged with the State Ethics Commission.
At the center of the turmoil is an anonymous Ethics complaint, accusing Dr. Craig Pouncey of falsifying authorship of his Doctoral Dissertation, and using State personnel and resources to earn his doctorate.
An anonymous letter with emails from 2009 containing thin allegations against Pouncey was sent to the Ethics Commission by Juliana T. Dean, General Counsel for ASDE, at the urging of Board member Mary Scott Hunter, according to sources inside ASDE and others close to the situation.
Also implicated in Pouncey’s defeat is Paul Pinyan, ALFA’s chief, and his lobbyists, who were on hand during Sentance’s approval by the Board.
“They were the only ones who applauded when he (Sentance) was chosen,” said an attendee, privately.
According to individuals with background knowledge of the events leading to the vote, ALFA lobbyists persuaded board member Betty Peters to break her pledge to support Pouncey.
Ultimately, BCA Chief Billy Canary is pulling the strings through his surrogate, Hunter, say insiders.
Reportedly, as Vice Chair Hunter is throwing her weight around to further stack the deck for BCA, by arranging central office staff at the Department of Education. Her efforts include calls to the Limestone County School Superintendent, as well as soliciting others to place calls on her behalf.
If Dial carries through on his investigation, many questions will need to be answered, the least of which being why no one mentioned Sentance’s suspended law license.