Pastor explains lawsuit filed in Phenix City schools superintend - WRBL

Pastor explains lawsuit filed in Phenix City schools superintendent hiring

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

Dr. Isaac Hudson, pastor of Nichols Chapel AME Church in Phenix City, filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Russell County Circuit Court over the hiring of the Phenix City School District's new superintendent Randy Wilkes.

The suit names board of education members Brad Baker, Kelvin Redd, Ricky Carpenter, Fran Ellis, and Paul Stamp, but leaves out Zara Parham and Barbara Mitchell. Parham and Mitchell abstained from the vote to hire Wilkes citing they had not yet met him.

"The day is over that we just accept what anybody says," said Dr. Isaac Hudson.

With that sentiment, Dr. Hudson said he was suing the Phenix City School Board. During a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Hudson laid out his lawsuit. He's the sole plaintiff but is supported by the Concerned Clergy of Phenix City and nearly 30 community members who gathered Wednesday.

The lawsuit alleges that the board violated the rules of executive session, failed to properly advertise the opening, and failed to properly advertise the meeting where the hire was announced. The suit claims that meeting was labeled a “work session.” The lawsuit also says some board members illegally met privately with Wilkes in order to avoid mandatory meeting rules.

The lawsuit also alleges that the State Board of Education overstepped its role when it endorsed Randy Wilkes for the position, who was eventually given the job.

"Since they have made decisions and ignored the public input and the public spirit, then the courts need to make a decision and dispose of this matter once and for all,"said Dr. Hudson.

2 other candidates for the job were interviewed by the entire school board in open, session meetings. The school board then turned to the Alabama Department of Education for suggestions after they didn't find who they were looking for. Randy Wilkes officially started the job Tuesday, but was approved about a month ago at a board meeting. At the time of Wilkes hiring, the school board said Wilkes had not been interviewed publicly because he was not interviewed formally by the entire board. His hiring was not included on the agenda during the meeting where he was hired and came as a surprise to many in the community.

Attorney Joseph Wiley is representing Dr. Hudson and tells News 3 they have a strong case.

"Step by step, executive session, work session, just too many legal violations that we could not stand by and not get involved," said Joseph Wiley.

The lawsuit asks that Wilkes be removed from his role as superintendent. News 3's Naomi Keitt reached out to the 5 board members listed in the suit by email and phone calls. We have yet to hear back from them.

Naomi Keitt

Naomi Keitt focuses on education reporting for WRBL News 3. More>>

James Brierton

James joined WRBL News 3 with experience from CNN, NBC News and his own hyper-local news site. He manages the WRBL News 3 Web desk. More>>

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