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NOXUBEE COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION v. MILDRED GIVENS

DECEMBER 11, 1985

NOXUBEE COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION
v.
MILDRED GIVENS



BEFORE PATTERSON, C.J., PRATHER AND ROBERTSON, JJ.

ROBERTSON, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

I.

This case arises out of an administrative snafu in a local school district. A longtime teacher found herself transferred to a new school at the beginning of the 1983-1984 school year and without direct instructions by anyone in authority regarding her duties for three weeks thereafter. When she consulted her contract and returned to the school therein designated, the teacher was discharged by the county superintendent of education for insubordination and that determination upheld by the county board of education.

 The record before us suggests that the greater part of the fault lies with the school administration. Its failure to provide express instructions to the teacher negates any inference of insubordination or neglect of duty. The school board's determination that the teacher should be fired is not supported by substantial evidence and is arbitrary and capricious. We affirm the chancery court's decision ordering

 reinstatement.

 II.

 A.

 Mildred Givens taught at the Noxubee Elementary School for nine years. The 1983-1984 school year would have been her tenth year in the Noxubee County School System. For that year Givens had received and executed a contract with the Noxubee County Board of Education which provided that she would be employed as a math teacher at the same school, Noxubee Elementary.

 On August 19, 1983, Reecy L. Dickson, Superintendent of Education for Noxubee County, directed that Givens be transferred to the Wilson Center in Brooksville and on that day gave written notice of this transfer to Virgil Jones, Jr., Principal at the Wilson Attendance Center. On August 24, 1983, Superintendent Dickson furnished a written notice to Principal Jones advising him of four personnel reassignments, the transfer of Givens to the Wilson Attendance Center and the transfer of three other teachers away from that Center to other schools.

 Givens reported to Principal Jones at the Wilson School but was told that he was not expecting her. She was sent to a Mrs. Gibson (apparently a guidance counselor) for an assignment. Gibson told Givens that the teaching schedule had been finished during the summer and that the school administration had "not gotten anything worked out" for Givens to do. Givens stayed at the Wilson School from August 23 until September 15 without being assigned any duties by Principal Jones or by any other person in authority. She volunteered and helped other teachers in their classes.

 By September 15, 1983, Givens was in a state of considerable confusion regarding her job. She got out her contract and reviewed it and saw that it provided that she should be at the Noxubee Elementary School. That day she reported to Jones that her contract provided that she should be at Noxubee Elementary and that she felt that she should return to that school, Jones did not try to talk her out of her decision nor did he advise her that if she did so she would be breaching her contract in any way.

 The next day Givens reported to B. F. Liddell, Principal of Noxubee Elementary School, and asked if she could sign in because she "wasn't doing anything" where she was. Principal Liddell acquiesced. Still, Givens was assigned no duties.

 She apparently sat in the office at Noxubee Elementary for several days without incident or disturbance.

 Several days later, Givens sought a brief leave of absence to attend a funeral. She contacted Superintendent Dickson and inquired to whom she should report for this anticipated absence. She was told that she should be at the Wilson Center and that such matters should be taken up with Principal Jones. Givens returned to the Wilson School the following day. That ...


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