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LaCour v. Claiborne County School Dist.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

August 6, 2013

Dr. Daisy M. LaCOUR, Appellant
v.
CLAIBORNE COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT, Appellee.

Page 1129

Daisy M. LaCour, appellant, pro se.

William Buckley Stewart, Robert P. Thompson, Ridgeland, attorneys for appellee.

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

CARLTON, J.

¶ 1. The Claiborne County School District (School District) terminated Daisy LaCour, Ph.D., from her position as principal of Port Gibson High School in Claiborne County on April 5, 2007. Since LaCour failed to properly and timely perfect her appeal of the decision of the Claiborne County School Board (School Board) in chancery court, as required by Mississippi Code Annotated section 37-9-113 (Rev.2007), and since LaCour failed to properly file suit for breach of contract, negligence, intentional tort, or a claim pursuant to 42 United States Code section 1983, before the statute of limitations expired, we affirm the chancery court's dismissal of her claim.

¶ 2. The School District filed a motion to dismiss this appeal on October 31, 2012, and we passed this motion to the merits. In its motion, the School District claimed that LaCour failed to set forth any assignment of error in the chancery court's order granting the School District's motion to dismiss LaCour's claim. The School District cites to Robinson v. Burton, 49 So.3d 660, 665 (¶ 16) (Miss.Ct.App.2010), for the proposition that the failure to specifically identify assignments of error constitutes a procedural bar. The School District further asserts that LaCour failed to address the issues raised in the School District's motion to dismiss and the chancery court's order; instead, she argued the merits of her breach-of-contract claim. The School District argues that LaCour may not raise new issues on appeal. Finally, the School District asserts that LaCour fails to cite any legal authority to rebut the School District's claims that the chancery court lacked jurisdiction and that LaCour failed to comply with the applicable statute of limitations.

¶ 3. As to the merits of this appeal, LaCour indeed argues in her brief that the School District breached its employment contract with her, and she argues that she timely filed her action. LaCour responds to the School District's motion to dismiss by arguing that " there are no case laws that deal with ... School District ... breach of contract." LaCour argues that the School District breached the contract by failing to pay her during the period after she was terminated and before the School Board issued a final decision after the termination hearing. LaCour's argument in response to the motion to dismiss

Page 1130

lacks merit and fails to address the chancery court's lack of jurisdiction. As set forth later in this opinion, since LaCour failed to properly perfect in chancery court an appeal of the School Board's decision to terminate her, then neither the chancery court nor this Court possesses jurisdiction to review these issues raised on appeal. Additionally, LaCour failed to timely or properly file any original action in state court for breach of contract, intentional tort, or negligence under the Mississippi Torts Claims Act (MTCA). We address the merits of the School District's motion to dismiss this appeal with the merits of the present matter.

FACTS

¶ 4. On April 5, 2007, the School District terminated LaCour from her position as principal of Port Gibson High School in Claiborne County.[1] On April 10, 2007, she requested a termination hearing before the School Board pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated section 37-9-59 (Supp.2012). On July 24, 2007, LaCour filed a written charge with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging sexual discrimination by the School District and by Superintendent Annie Kilcrease.

¶ 5. On February 21, 2008, and October 1, 2008, the School District held its hearing with LaCour. On October 1, 2008, the School District, through its School Board, affirmed LaCour's termination and notified LaCour's attorney of this decision by letter. On October 17, 2008, LaCour appealed the School District's decision to the Claiborne County Chancery Court.

¶ 6. Meanwhile, on September 24, 2008, the EEOC issued its written determination, finding that the School District discriminated against LaCour because of her sex, and therefore violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As a result, the EEOC began conciliation efforts between LaCour and the School District. On October 27, 2008, the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (Department) issued LaCour a letter providing notice of her right to sue within ninety days. The Department explained that it would not file suit for LaCour on her charge of discrimination; that conciliation efforts by the EEOC were unsuccessful; and that if LaCour wished to file suit herself under Title VII, then she had ninety days to do so.

¶ 7. While her appeal of her termination was pending in chancery court, LaCour filed a complaint on November 24, 2008, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi against Superintendent Kilcrease and the School District, alleging that the District's termination of LaCour from her position as principal constituted sexual discrimination in violation of Title VII.

¶ 8. On December 22, 2008, the chancery court entered an order dismissing LaCour's appeal of the School Board's decision affirming her termination, holding that LaCour failed to file a statutory appeal bond pursuant to section 37-9-113. The chancellor also explained that since the chancery court only possessed appellate jurisdiction to hear the matter, and since LaCour " elected to file this action as an original bill of complaint," then the chancery court possessed no jurisdiction to hear her action, since LaCour filed the action as an original complaint. LaCour did not appeal the chancellor's order of dismissal to the Mississippi Supreme

Page 1131

Court, but instead returned to federal court.

¶ 9. On January 20, 2009, LaCour filed an amended complaint in the federal district court adding claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress and tortious interference with business relations and/or contractual relations. On March 30, 2009, the federal district court entered an agreed order dismissing LaCour's claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. On July 29, 2009, the federal district court denied LaCour's motion to dismiss the ...


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