The effort to discredit Craig Pouncey as a candidate for state superintendent last summer has been well documented and even led to an investigation by a Senate committee trying to get to the bottom of why Pouncey was named in communications between the Ethics Commission and the state department of education.
And Pouncey filed a law suit against four state department employees and state school board member Mary Scott Hunter in an effort to untangle this web.
Now, Bill Britt and the Alabama Political Reporter believe state superintendent Mike Sentance is trying to withhold information about what happened. Here is Britt’s article and here are portions of it:
“A final report on the scandal surrounding a smear campaign launched to torpedo the candidacy of Dr. Craig Pouncey, for State Superintendent of the Department of Education is hidden away in the office of the man who ultimately landed the job.
Superintendent Michael Sentance is holding the results of an internal investigation into the Pouncey matter, claiming it is a “draft copy” of the final report. However, according to well-placed sources within the system, the report was not delivered to Sentance as a draft but as a completed document. These sources, not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, say Sentance is stalling for time. An email from the State Superintendent’s Office to APR said the report might be ready for the next Board meeting to be held this Wednesday.
It is widely speculated that some of the defendants, in this case, are fearful of what might be revealed in the report being held in Sentance’s office. Along with APR, several board members have called for Sentance to make the results of the investigation public.
It is believed that the ALSDE investigation has been secreted away by Sentance to protect Hunter and others who may have played a significant role in the smear campaign.”
Several things are at play at this time. Yvette Richardson of Fairfield is presently vice-chair of the state board. (This person chairs board meetings in the absence of the governor.) New board officers will be elected at the July 11 board meeting. So the meeting on Wednesday, June 21 may be Richardson’s last as vice-chair.
Last October Richardson was instrumental in getting a board resolution passed calling on the Attorney Gerald and the Ethics Commission to investigate the smear sheet episode. (This resolution did not preclude ALSDE from doing their own investigation.)
Richardson wants to get “loose ends tied up” before the July 11 election which is why she instructed Sentance to have a final report to the board by June 21. Sentance referenced an internal report on June 8 and legal counsel Juliana Dean gave the board information indicating that the Attorney General’s office would not investigate until the department did so.
One of the central figures in all of this is board member Mary Scott Hunter, an announced candidate for Lt. Governor. Reliable sources tell me they believe whatever Sentance may have will hurt Hunter politically. And since she is Sentance’s most staunch supporter on the board, one can understand the quandary Sentance now faces.
But it is high time that someone begins to remember the 730,000 students in Alabama public schools and doing what is best for them–not what is best for someone’s political career.
From the beginning, last year’s search process was far more about politics than education. It has been a sad, sad commentary and needs to end.