- Associated Press - Thursday, February 23, 2017

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A former superintendent finalist on Thursday filed a civil lawsuit against a state school board member and others, accusing them of orchestrating a ethics complaint last year to knock him out of the running to be the state’s next education chief.

Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Craig Pouncey filed the lawsuit in Montgomery naming board member Mary Scott Hunter, Deputy Superintendent Philip Cleveland and others as defendants.

Pouncey, a former state deputy superintendent, had been a leading candidate to be the next state superintendent. An anonymous complaint sent to board members ahead of the vote accused Pouncey of getting state staff to write his 2009 dissertation. The information was sent to the Alabama Ethics Commission.

The lawsuit says the complaint was settled in Pouncey’s favor. Pouncey has said the claim was false.

“What happened to him is a group of people orchestrated a scheme to try to ruin his chances of becoming the next superintendent,” Pouncey’s lawyer, Kenny Mendelsohn, said Thursday.



An Alabama Department of Education spokeswoman said the department did not have a comment on the private civil lawsuit. Efforts to reach Hunter failed.

The board hired Michael Sentance as superintendent in August after several rounds of voting. Sentance won the position with five board votes. Pouncey was the next highest vote-getter, with four.

Pouncey is a longtime veteran of the state Department of Education and had been outspoken on state education policy. He has criticized a GOP-backed private school scholarship program as a covert voucher program.

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