A former city of Dothan employee is appealing a ruling by Houston County Circuit Judge Henry "Butch" Binford that upheld her termination for her involvement in the city's youth food scandal paid for with federal COVID funds.

The appeal was filed on Thursday, and the case will now head to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals.

According to an order filed by Binford in March, the city of Dothan Personnel Board's termination of Stephanie Wingfield, a recreation program coordinator, was "supported by substantial evidence" and that Wingfield "was properly afforded due process throughout the termination proceedings."

Wingfield filed an appeal of her termination in Houston County Circuit Court in September against both the city of Dothan and the Dothan Personnel Board.

Members of the Dothan Personnel Board upheld the city's termination of Wingfield in August. 

Wingfield allegedly "ordered subordinates to falsify paperwork" so Dothan could receive federal funding for the program during the COVID pandemic.

The Dothan feeding program contract eventually went to a restaurant called Breakfast at Tammie's.

Over two years, the city of Dothan paid Breakfast at Tammie's $2.7 million for meals and snacks, according to documents obtained by WTVY

According to court documents, Ramona Marcus, Dothan's Finance Director, testified at the personnel board hearing that Wingfield's alleged "mismanagement of the program" has a "potential to affect federal funding citywide for several years" due to the city of Dothan now "most likely being listed as a high-risk auditee."

According to a transcript of the Personnel Board hearing in August, Latonya Dorsey, the owner of Mama T's restaurant in Dothan who also bid for the feeding program contract, complained to Dothan City officials in May about "improprieties with the bidding process."

Attorneys for the city of Dothan and Wingfield didn't return requests for comment from 1819 News on Friday.

The Dothan feeding program is reportedly under FBI investigation, according to media reports last year. However, no arrests have been made as of yet.

The Dothan City Commission revised the after-school nutrition program in August by contracting with Dothan City Schools to regularly provide 200 dinners and snacks to students. Dothan was providing approximately 1,800 to 2,000 dinners and snacks regularly at the height of COVID, according to city of Dothan officials. 

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email caleb.taylor@1819News.com.

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