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McGee v. Jackson State University

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

July 30, 2019

VERONICA McGEE APPELLANT
v.
JACKSON STATE UNIVERSITY APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/02/2018

          HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT, HON. WILLIAM A. GOWAN JR. JUDGE.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: VERONICA McGEE (PRO SE).

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: POPE SHANNON MALLETTE PAUL BOWIE WATKINS JR.

          BEFORE BARNES, C.J., TINDELL AND McCARTY, JJ.

          TINDELL, J.

         ¶1. Veronica McGee obtained her master's degree from Jackson State University (JSU) in May 2005. Eleven years later, in June 2016, McGee sued JSU after learning that her master's degree failed to satisfy the initial eligibility requirements for a teaching license. McGee asserted claims of breach of express and implied contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, promissory estoppel, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.[1] JSU moved for summary judgment, which the Hinds County Circuit Court, First Judicial District, granted.

         ¶2. On appeal, McGee raises several arguments, which we restate as follows: (1) JSU's 2003-2005 graduate-school course catalog created an implied contract between McGee and JSU; (2) JSU breached the implied contract because its course catalog "intentionally omitted accurate and true facts" regarding the admissions requirements for the graduate program McGee chose to pursue; (3) the three-year statute of limitations in Mississippi Code Annotated section 15-1-49 (Rev. 2012) fails to bar McGee's claims against JSU; and (4) JSU engaged in fraud and/or misrepresentation regarding the admissions requirements for McGee's chosen graduate program. Because we find that section 15-1-49's statute of limitations bars McGee's claims, we affirm the circuit court's grant of summary judgment to JSU.[2]

         FACTS

         ¶3. McGee received a bachelor's degree in business administration from Indiana State University. In 2003, McGee enrolled at JSU as a graduate student in the Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education (the Education Department). McGee testified that an interest in reading problems and disabilities prompted her to return to school to become a certified reading teacher. McGee further testified that JSU's 2003-2005 graduate-school course catalog served as her only information source for choosing a program.

         ¶4. After consulting the course catalog, McGee entered JSU's Master of Science in Reading Education Program (the Reading Education Program). The catalog's only stated prerequisite for the Reading Education Program was that "[a]pplicants must hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university." With her bachelor's degree from Indiana State University, McGee satisfied this requirement. Nowhere in the course description did the catalog represent that the Reading Education Program satisfied the initial eligibility requirements for a teaching license.

         ¶5. After completing the two-year Reading Education Program, McGee graduated from JSU in May 2005 with a Master of Science in Reading Education. McGee then took online classes at Nova Southeastern University in Florida and obtained her Doctorate of Education in December 2010. After receiving her doctorate degree, McGee worked as a substitute teacher in Clarke County, Georgia. In 2014, she applied to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission for a Georgia teaching license.

         ¶6. In early 2015, McGee learned that her master's degree from JSU failed to satisfy the Mississippi Department of Education's requirements for a Class A initial teacher's license. As Dr. Daniel Watkins, the dean of JSU's College of Education and Human Development, explained in his affidavit:

The Mississippi Department of Education issues four levels of teaching licenses-Class A (bachelor's degree level), Class AA (master's degree level), Class AAA (specialist degree level), and Class AAAA (doctorate degree level). Once a teacher earns a Class A license, he or she ...

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