OF JUDGMENT: 08/19/2013
FROM WHICH APPEALED: BOLIVAR COUNTY CHANCERY COURT. TRIAL
JUDGE: HON. WATOSA MARSHALL SANDERS. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION:
REVERSED THE SCHOOL BOARD'S JUDGMENT AND RENDERED A
JUDGMENT FOR THE APPELLEE.
APPELLANT: JAMIE FERGUSON JACKS.
APPELLEE: DANIEL ELLIS MORRIS.
IRVING, P.J., ROBERTS AND MAXWELL, JJ. LEE, C.J., GRIFFIS,
P.J., BARNES, ISHEE, CARLTON, MAXWELL AND FAIR, JJ., CONCUR.
IRVING, P.J., CONCURS IN PART AND IN THE RESULT WITHOUT
SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION. JAMES, J., DISSENTS WITHOUT
SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION.
The Cleveland School District decided that it would not renew
Lester Fisher's employment as the principal of H.M.
Nailor Elementary School. After Fisher's requested
nonrenewal hearing, the Cleveland School District Board of
Trustees (the Board) upheld Fisher's nonrenewal based on
a number of reasons. The Bolivar County Chancery Court
reversed the Board's decision and awarded Fisher
attorney's fees. The Board appeals. We find that
substantial evidence supported the Board's decision
declining to renew Fisher's employment. It follows that
the chancellor erred when she reversed the Board's
decision. Accordingly, we reverse the chancellor's
judgment and render a judgment for the Board.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Fisher began his employment as the principal of Nailor
Elementary School during August 2001. During March 2010,
Superintendent Jackie Thigpen informed Fisher that the school
district would not be renewing his employment. Fisher
requested a nonrenewal hearing. His hearing took place over
several days during May 2010. After the hearing, the Board
upheld Fisher's nonrenewal because: (1) Nailor had the
lowest " Quality of Distribution Index"
(QDI) rating in the district; (2) there were
consistent problems with student records; (3) Nailor's
library was inadequate; (4) Fisher was not properly
overseeing the " Reading to Read" program; and (5)
Nailor was not clean enough. Fisher argued that his
nonrenewal was retaliatory because he would not consent to a
magnet school's use of grant funds that he had helped
procure solely for Nailor. However, the Board rejected
Fisher appealed the Board's decision. The chancellor
found that there was no evidence to support any of the
Board's reasons for terminating Fisher. The chancellor
discussed Fisher's claim that his nonrenewal was
retaliatory. Although the chancellor seemed to agree with
Fisher's allegation, the chancellor did not go so far as
to find that the Fisher's employment was not renewed
because he would not consent to another school's use of
grant funds that were intended for Nailor. In any event, the
chancellor reversed the Board's judgment and rendered a
judgment for Fisher. The Board appeals and claims that the
" When this Court reviews a decision by a chancery or
circuit court concerning an agency action, it applies the