By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
A deposition, which serves as the basis of the final report that details efforts to smear Dr. Craig Pouncey and deny him a fair chance at being selected State Superintendent of the Department of Education, is being withheld by the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE).
Over ten days ago, The Alabama Political Reporter (APR), under the Alabama Open Records Act, requested the sworn deposition of ALSDE’s Chief Information Security Officer, David Pope.
Pope’s testimony is vital to the investigation conducted by ALSDE attorney, Michael Meyer. In its formal request, APR is also seeking the memo from Juliana Dean, in which she makes frivolous allegations of Ethics violations against Meyer and his wife, Tracy. The memo was composed by Dean after Meyer was appointed to investigate the smear campaign against Dr. Pouncey by current State Superintendent, Michael Sentance.
As of this report, ALSDE is refusing to answer APR’s appeal for documents surrounding Meyer’s investigation.
There is growing concern in the education community that Pope is being pressured to walk back or even recant his earlier testimony for fear of retaliation. According to sources inside the department, an air of fear has gripped employees who have knowledge of the events surrounding this so-called “ethics complaint” against Dr. Pouncey.
Based on Pope’s testimony, a trail of electronic evidence and other information points to a scheme concocted and executed by Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) board member, Mary Scott Hunter, then-Interim Superintendent Philip Cleveland, and ALSDE attorneys Juliana Teixeira Dean, James R. Ward III, and Susan Tudor Crowther. The internal investigation also found unnamed individuals who may have participated in the plot.
Hunter, who is running for Lieutenant Governor, Dean, and the others deny any wrongdoing and are now trying to turn the investigation back on investigator Meyer, claiming he is simply a disgruntled employee out for revenge.
It appears a State taxpayer-supported fund is paying for the attorneys representing Dean, Ward, and Crowther, while the Board of Education has hired Lewis Gillis as outside counsel.
Meyer’s report alleging a coordinated plan, executed by Hunter and the others, is now in the hands of the State Attorney General.
State Senators Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) and Quinton Ross (D-Montgomery) will reconvene their Senate investigation into this scheme on July 25. Dial, armed with new information provided by Meyer’s report, has promised a new round of inquiry into the dirty tricks that saw Dr. Pouncey rejected as State Superintendent of Education.
By denying APR access to the vital information not fully revealed in Meyer’s report, it appears that ALSDE and the BOE are not forthcoming about all they know.
Dr. Pouncey has a Civil suit against Hunter and the others.