Dispute between Phenix City council and school board goes before judge - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Dispute between Phenix City council and school board goes before judge

By Taylor Barnhill  - bio | email | Twitter

PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) - If you've watched the news at all in the past few months, you can't help but hear about the on-going dispute in Phenix City between the school board and the city council.

It's been a few months of back and forth action between Phenix City Council members and the Phenix City School Board. There was name calling, there were meeting held and Monday the case went before a judge, who is trying to resolve these issues.

Everyone involved says, this whole ordeal started with a simple request for documents.

"We had numerous complaints -- the mayor and council members -- regarding the Phenix City School System. Those complaints were made by private citizens and employees and that's where this all got started," explained Jimmy Graham, the city attorney for Phenix City.

Phenix City School Board Attorney Sydney Smith added, "They're entitled to those items, but it's the method they attempted to obtain them."

In Circuit Court this morning, Judge Johnson ruled the city council does not have the authority to remove any school board member before their term has expired. They do, however, have the right to appoint and re-appoint members when a new term begins.         

"It's a shame we had to do this because we had a city council that has tried to dictate a lot of things in our school district and they are trying to conduct investigations and do a lot of things that bring embarrassment to the school district, to myself and to the school board," Phenix City Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry DiChiara told News Leader Nine.

And as for those documents that started this whole thing, Graham says, "We intend to pursue the records and documents under the Alabama Open Documents Act, which the judge referred to this morning."

City Attorney Jimmy Graham added this process has further proven that the only entity that has authority over Dr. DiChiara and the school board is the State Superintendent's office. He recommends that if any other citizens have concerns, they contact them.

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