By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Three attorneys for the state’s department of education along with a board member have serious charges pending before the Alabama State Bar Disciplinary Commission over a scheme to deny Dr. Craig Pouncey the superintendent’s job and yet there has been no response from the bar.
Bar complaints against Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) board member, Mary Scott Hunter, ALSDE attorneys Juliana Teixeira Dean, James R Ward III, and Susan Tudor Crowther were filed some months ago after an internal investigation. The internal report found Hunter and the three ALSDE lawyer had schemed a smear Pouncey who was a candidate for state superintendent.
The office of interim superintendent Ed Richardson was contacted for comment about the bar complaints, and if he was taking any action to curtail the attorney’s activities due to the seriousness of the allegation.
However, ALSDE Director of Communications Dr. Michael Sibley said after repeated attempts he was unable to receive a response from Richardson. Sibley didn’t give any reason why the interim superintendent refused to answer APR’s question, only that he did not receive a response to APR’s query.
In June APR published the results of an internal investigation after then-superintendent Michael Sentance moved to suppress a report.
According to the internal report Hunter in coordination with then Interim Superintendent Philip Cleveland, and ALSDE attorneys Dean, Ward, and Crowther colluded to derails Pouncey’s candidacy for superintendent.
“Most regrettably, these five participants have caused grave and serious harm,” the report states, “and cast a major shadow on the veracity and credibility of the State Department of Education and the State Board of Education (through no fault of the majority) that still lingers to the present day.”
In August 2016, APR first revealed the plot involving an anonymous letter with emails from 2009 containing thin allegations against Pouncey.
The ethics commission has never given a reasonable explanation for its involvement only offering lawyerly gobbledygook to a Senate investigation led by Sen. Gerald Dial. The bipartisan committee resulted in its finding being delivered to the State’s Attorney General’s Office as well as the state bar.
The attorney general’s office will neither confirm nor deny the status of its investigation. However, APR has confirmed the bar complaint is being taken, “very seriously,” according to a source with knowledge of events surrounding the Pouncey smear.