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Sentance feeling the heat as subpoena seeks findings of ALSDE investigation

Bill Britt

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By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

A subpoena was filed in Montgomery Circuit Court on Monday demanding State Superintendent of the Department of Education Michael Sentance handover the internal investigation into the scheme to derail the candidacy of Dr. Craig Pouncey in 2016.

See Subpoena

Pouncey has a lawsuit pending against several individuals he believes were party to a “dirty tricks” campaign against his candidacy for Superintendent.

Pouncey’s Montgomery-based attorney, Kenny Mendelsohn, on Monday also filed a reply to defendants: Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE), Board member Mary Scott Hunter, interim Superintendent Philip Cleveland, and ALSDE attorneys Juliana Teixeira Dean, James R Ward III, and Susan Tudor Crowther motion to dismiss.

See Motion

Those close to the matter believe strongly that some of the defendants are deeply concerned that their actions to derail Pouncey’s candidacy will affect them legally, professional and politically. Hunter, who has declared her candidacy for the Office of Lt. Governor, is believed to have played a significantly “dark role” in this matter, according to those with knowledge of the investigation.

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Shortly before the Board was to select a new Superintendent of the Department of Education, false allegations against Dr. Pouncey, in the form of an anonymous Ethics complaint, were exposed by The Alabama Political Reporter (APR) in August 2016.

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However, the damage to Pouncey’s reputation was nearly complete, which led him to file suit against those he felt were involved in the smear campaign. Last Friday, Hunter, et al., presented a motion to dismiss to Montgomery Circuit Court Judge Roman Ashley Shaul.

Mendelsohn countered that motion on Monday by requesting the internal investigation be turned over to the court saying, “The ASDOE Report will likely shed light on the facts of this case, particularly on whether the Defendants were acting beyond their authority.”

In October 2016, the ALSDE issued a resolution calling for an investigation by the Alabama Ethics Commission and the Alabama State Attorney General’s Office, into the unauthorized and potentially illegal dissemination of information concerning Dr. Pouncey. The resolution stated the Ethics Commission concluded the information concerning Pouncey, “was of a ‘private’ and ‘confidential’ nature, and due to be protected from unauthorized disclosure.” It also found the “information was obtained by potentially unlawful means,” and “the manner in which it was obtained and disseminated to the Ethics Commission was, possibly, in violation of State laws concerning the handling of privileged, confidential, and/or sensitive personal information.” However, the Ethic Commission and the Attorney General’s Office chose not to act on the matter until an internal report was completed.

According to the motion filed on Monday: “At the June 8, 2017, meeting of the Alabama State Board of Education, State Superintendent of Education Michael Sentance reported to the Board that the Department had completed its internal investigation and that the Attorney General’s Office was waiting for ASDOE to complete its investigation before considering any action.” At that meeting, the Board requested that the report be provided to them at the next work session. However, Sentance has been playing for time, allegedly to protect those with close association with the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), who may be ensnared in a full-scale probe by Law Enforcement, according to well-placed sources within the system.

The Board’s next meeting is scheduled for this coming Wednesday. It is thought Sentance plans to discuss the report in an Executive Session. One individual speaking on background said of the upcoming meeting, “Sentance will have hell to pay if he thinks he can keep this report under wraps.”

 

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