Attorneys rest in Community of Concerned Clergy versus PCBOE preliminary hearing

PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) - It's the second day of the preliminary hearing of the Community of Concerned Clergy versus Phenix City Board of Education. Concerned Clergy filed suit, claiming the board violated Alabama open meetings laws back in June.

The Community of Concerned Clergy opened the day by calling board president Brad Baker to the stand.  Attorney Joseph Wiley asked him plain out if there was ever any public mention of Randy Wilkes' appointment as superintendent. Baker's answer was  no.

Defendants and board members Brad Baker, Barbara Mitchell and Zara Parham were among those filling the court room Wednesday. In a series of questions by CCC's attorney Joseph Wiley, Baker testifies that the state superintendent's office recommended three candidates, including


Baker says he called all three, and Wilkes was the only to reply. He stated numerous times that there was never any public presentation of now-superintendent Randy Wilkes prior to his appointment. 

Another item under fire by the plaintiffs is why Wilkes was appointed at a special called meeting on June 10, instead of at the regularly scheduled meeting for the 12

Perhaps the most explosive testimony of the day was that of Pastor Noble Williams. He testified, under oath, that he and board President Baker had a private conversation about a potential candidate. Williams went on to say how Baker told him that candidate was the most impressive he'd seen yet, but maybe “segments of the city were not ready for a black superintendent.” 

The attorney's went back and forth about the legality of the decisions to appoint and bring in Superintendent Wilkes the way he was brought in. Once Wilkes was appointed, testimony reveals his $145,000 contract was signed the next day by Wilkes and Baker, although it wasn't officially approved until July 8. 

While Judge Howard Bryan decided not to discuss the legality of that decision in open session, he did say had contract not been approved by the board, the city could have faced pending litigation.

This ruling was followed by an announcement to go into an in camera session – where only parties directly involved in the suit were allowed in the courtroom. This lasted for more than two and a half hours. 

Judge Howard Bryan asked for the attorneys to submit their closing arguments, in writing to him, by February 2015. 

Count on News Leader Nine to continue following this developing story.

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