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NOXUBEE COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION v. CAROLYN OVERTON

DECEMBER 11, 1985

NOXUBEE COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION
v.
CAROLYN OVERTON



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

ROBERTSON, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

I.

This appeal presents the question whether a minor procedural error in scheduling a non-reemployment hearing for a public school teacher had the effect of renewing automatically for the ensuing school year the teacher's contract. The chancery court sitting as a court of appeals

 answered in the affirmative. On the authority of Miss. Code Ann. 37-9-113 (4) (Supp. 1985), we reverse and reinstate the determination of the school board that the teacher not be reemployed.

 II.

 A.

 On April 8, 1983, in conformity with law, Carolyn Overton was notified that her teaching contract with the Noxubee County Board of Education would not be renewed. Miss. Code Ann. 37-9-105 (c) (Supp. 1985). For the three previous years Overton had been an elementary art teacher with the Noxubee County schools. By letter dated April 9, 1983, and received by Reecy L. Dickson, Noxubee County Superintendent of Education, on April 11, 1983, Overton requested a hearing before the Noxubee County Board of Education. Miss. Code Ann. 37-9-109 (Supp. 1985). Superintendent Dickson responded with a letter dated May 13, 1983, scheduling a hearing before the Board on May 23, 1983. The reason given for the nonrenewal of Overton's contract was that such was necessitated by a falling average daily attendance in the Noxubee County schools which in turn resulted in a reduction in teacher units available within the school district.

 The non-reemployment hearing was postponed on three separate occasions by mutual agreement. A hearing finally scheduled for July 28, 1983, did not take place because of a mix-up in giving notice to Overton's attorney of its time, date and place. The board of education attempted to treat this "mix-up" as a waiver of a hearing by Overton. This misplaced contention was dispatched by the Chancery Court of Noxubee County in an opinion released January 12, 1984, directing in essence that the Board of Education of Noxubee County grant Overton a non-reemployment hearing within the scope and contemplation of Miss. Code Ann. 37-9-111 (1972) "without undue delay" .

 The ordered hearing was held before a properly designated hearing officer on January 31, 1984. The hearing officer made no findings or recommendation but delivered the entire transcript of the hearing to the Noxubee County Board of Education. On February 20, 1984, the Board formally and finally notified Overton that her contract would not be renewed. The Board set forth as reasons for Overton's non-reemployment that:

 (2) Her only certificate was in elementary art education.

 (3) Because of reduced enrollment, it became necessary to reduce the number of teachers employed by the School District.

 (4) Ms. Overton was selected for non-renewal of her contract solely because the elementary school needed 15 certified elementary teachers and Ms. Overton was not so certified.

 The board of education addressed the matter of the failure of the Superintendent to schedule a hearing within thirty (30) days of Overton's original request and in that regard found:

 . . . through inadvertence or confusion, Mrs. Dickson failed to schedule the hearing within thirty (30) days of the request by Ms. Overton. However, Mrs. Dickson made a good faith attempt to comply with the law. Further, Ms. Overton subsequently requested delays in the hearing show that the timeliness of the hearing was not ...


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