Alabama Association of School Boards weighs in on PCBOE concerns

PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) - Residents say hiring Randy Wilkes without a public interview is unethical and they plan to take their concerns up with the state. The Board of Education's policies and procedures manual could make their claim a tough one.

Pastor Noble Williams, spokesperson for Community of Concerned Clergy, says he wants the board to "cancel those assignments that they've made and the election of a superintendent opening back up and do the search the correct way as mandated by the state of Alabama."

Williams is one of dozens at the meeting who share this feeling after learning that the Phenix City Board of Education had elected a superintendent privately.

"We feel that it was not done according to state law that mandates that the interviews be held in public," Williams adds.

The Board publicly interviewed two candidates for the position.Three others removed themselves from running. But questions still remain about whether the Board broke state law by not interviewing new superintendent Randy Wilkes publicly.

According to the Code of Alabama 1975, Section 13A-14-2 provides: "(a) No executive or secret session shall be held by any of the following named boards, commissions or courts of Alabama, namely: Alabama public service commission; school commissions of Alabama."

On the contrary, that same statute states "that executive or secret sessions may be held by any of the above named boards or commissions when the character or good name of a woman or man is involved."

And Pastor Williams says he hopes his complaint will urge the Phenix City School Board to do the right thing.

"We've had a custom and a way of doing things that are legal, but not necessarily that are morally right," Nobles said. "So, I pray that they'll do both, that which is legal and that which is also right morally."

We did received a comment from the Alabama Association of School Boards Director of Public Relations, Denise Berkhalter, about the situation. She says "school boards are required to post the position but are not required to interview. It is not unheard of to appoint without interviews. However, if the candidate is going to interview with the entire school board, that interview would need to be public." Our attempts to contact members of the Phenix City Board of Education have been unsuccessful.