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PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) -
Days after a letter from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools surfaced about Phenix City schools facing a possible review, the newest school board member is speaking out.
Kenneth Funderburk is set to start his term with the Phenix City School Board in June, but he addressed the Phenix City Council about the letter in a work session on Monday.
"By law, either you are elected to the school board or you are appointed to the school board. In either event, the superintendent has no choice in that," said Funderburk
"This seems to be another case of the superintendent trying to interfere with the city council's responsibilities," said Phenix City Council Member Jimmy Wetzel.
Superintendent Larry DiChiara released the letter from the SACS last week. The letter expresses concerns about the process the Phenix City Council uses to appoint school board members especially those who might have conflicts of interest.
"It is perfectly obvious that this letter was written to Dr. DiChiara at his request. It was not done at the request of the school board," said Funderburk.
Funderburk, who at one time represented the city in a court battle against the school board, believes his recent appointment to the school board is the subject of the allegations.
DiChiara denied the allegations saying he did not contact SACS, but the organization alerted him of a possible review.
"It doesn't matter if it gives me or any board member concern. What matters is if SACS sees any kind of misconduct or impropriety, they have the option to come in and do a special review and could yank our accreditation," said DiChiara.
Funderburk and some Council Members pointed out Monday, it is the council's right by law to appoint members to any board including the school board.
"We don't dictate them and tell them what to do. They do what they want to do, and we send all of them from here," said Phenix City Council Member Arthur Sumbry, Sr.
We reached out to most of the Phenix City School Board members. Florence Bellamy called us back saying she is not worried about the possible loss of accreditation because of the quality of the school system, and if the council did not appoint members, she would have had the opportunity to serve on the school board.