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DOUG MERCHANT v. BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE PEARL MUNICIPAL SEPARATE SCHOOL DISTRICT

JULY 23, 1986

DOUG MERCHANT
v.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE PEARL MUNICIPAL SEPARATE SCHOOL DISTRICT



BEFORE ROY NOBLE LEE, P.J.; PRATHER AND ROBERTSON, JJ.

ROBERTSON, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

I.

Our law directs that the trustees or board members of the various public school districts of this state serve in a quasi judicial capacity with respect to a wide range of personnel matters including teacher dismissals. For reasons of institutional necessity and practical convenience, we have long accepted substantial limitations upon judicial review of a school board's actions. Adherence to these limitations proceeds on the assumption that there has been a full and air hearing before the school board followed by a reasonable and adequate decision on the merits of the matter in controversy. It is in the context of these premises that we this day affirm the Pearl Municipal Separate School District's dismissal of an obviously popular and successful football coach, because he refused to be a team player.

 II.

 Prior to July of 1984 Doug Merchant, Appellant here, served as athletic director for the Pearl Municipal Separate School District (PMSSD) and head football coach at Pearl High School. On July 10, 1984, Merchant was notified by District Superintendent, William H. Dodson, that his contract was terminated and he was dismissed from further duties. An amended notice of dismissal advised Merchant that the reasons for his dismissal were (1) insubordination, (2) direct

 disobedience of School Board policy concerning purchasing after receiving written instructions concerning said policy, (3) overspending the Athletic Department's budget, (4) purchasing or contracting to purchase items over $500.00 without receiving price quotations, (5) unauthorized sale of merchandise to students, including shirts, jackets, cokes and other items, and (6) failure to account for monies received to the school activity fund.

 As required by law, Merchant was advised of his entitlement to a hearing before the School Board regarding his termination and the adequacy of the reasons therefor. Miss. Code Ann. 37-9-59 (Supp. 1985). Merchant requested such a hearing which in fact was held on July 23, 1984. We have before us a transcript of that hearing, the better part of which consists of the testimony of Superintendent Dodson by way of explanation and justification for Merchant's dismissal, followed by Merchant's testimony by way of defense. At the conclusion of the hearing the School Board upheld the action of the Superintendent, effectively terminating Merchant from further employment with the District.

 Merchant perfected an appeal to the Chancery Court of Rankin County, Mississippi. In an opinion filed January 4, 1985, the Chancery Court affirmed the action of the school trustees. That opinion noted Merchant had been dismissed on July 23, 1984, that he raised constitutional questions regarding adequacy of notice of certain allegations but that the proceedings before the school trustees conformed to law and

 that the action of the Board of Trustees of the Pearl Municipal Separate School District should be affirmed and the petition for appeal and review filed herein by the Petitioner, Doug Merchant, should be dismissed.

 On January 14, 1985, the Chancery Court entered its final order dismissing Merchant's appeal, whereupon Merchant perfected a further appeal to this Court. See Miss. Code Ann. 37-9-59 (Supp. 1985).

 III.

 Our law provides that any employee of a school district may be dismissed or suspended for incompetence, neglect of duty, immoral conduct, intemperence, brutal treatment of a pupil or for other good cause. Miss. Code Ann. 37-9-59 (Supp. 1985); see Everett v. Board of Trustees of Meridian

 Municipal Separate School District, ___ So.2d ___ (Miss. No. 55, 735, dec. July 16, 1986) (not yet reported). This Court has recognized that insubordination is one of the "other good causes" for which one may be dismissed. Nozubee County Board of Education v. Givens, 481 So.2d 816, 819 (Miss. 1985); Sims v. Board of Trustees of Holly Springs Municipal Separate School District, 414 So.2d 431, 435 (Miss. 1982).

 Without serious question, one who is a school district athletic director or a high school football coach, is subject to the provisions of Section 37-9-59, even though those two jobs are not specifically listed by title. See Everett v. Board of Trustees of Meridian Municipal Separate School District, ___ So.2d ___ (Miss. No. 55, 735, dec. July 16, 1986) (not yet reported).

 The hearing procedure in such cases is that found in Miss. Code Ann. 37-9-111 (Supp. 1985). See Miss. Code Ann. 37-9-59 (Supp. 1985). Section 37-9-111 (4) provides, inter alia, that ...


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