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Jones v. Mississippi Dept. of Employment Sec.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

July 30, 2013

Willie H. JONES II, Appellant
v.
MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY, Appellee.

Willie H. Jones II, appellant, pro se.

Albert B. White, Madison, Leanne Franklin Brady, attorneys for appellee.

Before GRIFFIS, P.J., ROBERTS and CARLTON, JJ.

ROBERTS, J.

¶ 1. On May 28, 2010, Willie H. Jones II was terminated from his employment as a teacher in the Hinds County School District (District). Jones subsequently filed for unemployment benefits; however, after an investigation, the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) denied Jones unemployment benefits because Jones was terminated due to misconduct. Jones appealed this decision to an administrative judge (AJ), who affirmed the MDES's decision to deny Jones unemployment benefits. Jones again appealed to the MDES Board of Review, which also affirmed the AJ's findings of fact and conclusions of law. Jones then appealed this decision to the Hinds County Circuit Court. The circuit court affirmed the denial of Jones's unemployment benefits.

Page 225

Finding no error, we affirm the circuit court's judgment affirming the Board's decision.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶ 2. Jones was employed by the District as an educator from July 31, 2006, until his termination on May 28, 2010. On May 7, 2010, Jones received a written notice that he had been placed on a teacher-improvement plan to improve his communication skills. Jones was also informed that he was to begin the improvement plan immediately, even though it was close to the end of the school year. Jones vehemently disagreed with his placement on the improvement plan, and informed Cindy Gibson, the Teacher Quality Assurance Administrator, that he would not comply with the improvement plan. She told him that he would need to speak to the District's superintendent, Dr. Stephen Handley. Jones contacted Dr. Handley, who instructed him to make a good-faith effort to comply with the improvement plan, and that at the end of the current school year, which was approximately two more weeks, Dr. Handley would reevaluate the need for Jones to stay on the improvement plan. Dr. Handley also informed Jones that the failure to comply with the improvement plan could result in termination of his employment.

¶ 3. Jones refused to comply with any portion of the improvement plan, and allegedly filed a grievance with the Hinds County School Board (Board) on May 14, 2010. As a result of Jones's refusal to complete any portion of the improvement plan, Jones's employment as an educator for the District was terminated on May 28, 2010. Jones appealed his termination to the Board, and a hearing was held before the Board on June 25, 2010. The Board issued its decision upholding Jones's termination on August 12, 2010.

¶ 4. Jones applied for unemployment benefits on July 26, 2010. Following an investigation, the MDES determined Jones was terminated for misconduct, specifically for his refusal to comply with the improvement plan as requested. Jones appealed the MDES's determination to an AJ. A de novo hearing was conducted before the AJ on September 23, 2010. The AJ heard testimony from Jones, Dr. Handley, and Gibson, and reviewed a variety of documents submitted by the parties. The AJ affirmed the denial of Jones's unemployment benefits due to his misconduct in failing to comply with the improvement plan.

¶ 5. Jones appealed the AJ's findings to the Board of Review. The Board of Review adopted the AJ's findings of fact and conclusions of law, and it affirmed the decision to deny Jones unemployment benefits. On December 3, 2010, Jones appealed to the circuit court. The circuit court affirmed the denial of unemployment benefits. It is from this decision that Jones bases his current appeal. On appeal, he raises the following issues, which we quote:

I. Whether the finding of the [AJ] was based on fraudulent, created, and seemingly defamating [sic] late information provided by the [District and the Board].
II. Whether the [AJ] wronged [sic] in her interpretation of the law that [Jones's] official grievance submittal [sic] to the secretary of the [Board], on May 14, 2010[,] did not negate the process of continuing any plan until heard before the [Board] as according ...

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