SEC. 37-9-111. Hearing.
Section 37-9-111, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-9-111. (1) The school board, or its designee, upon request for a hearing from an employee under the terms of Sections 37-9-101 through 37-9-113, shall set the time, place and date of such hearing and notify the employee in writing of same. The date shall be set not sooner than five (5) days nor later than thirty (30) days from the date of the request, unless otherwise agreed. The hearing may be held before the board or before a hearing officer appointed for such purpose by the board, either from among its own membership, from the staff of the school district or some other qualified and impartial person, but in no event shall the hearing officer be the staff member responsible for the initial recommendation of nonreemployment. No hearing officer may have an interest in the outcome of a hearing, nor may a hearing officer be related to a board member, any administrator making the recommendations of nonreemployment or the employee. Once a hearing officer is appointed, no ex parte communications may be made regarding any substantive provisions of the hearing.
(2) The hearing must be held in executive session unless the employee elects to have a public hearing. If an employee makes this election, however, the board or the hearing officer, as the case may be, may order any part of the hearing to be held in executive session, if, in the opinion of the board or the hearing officer, the testimony to be elicited deals with matters involving the reputation or character of another person. Notwithstanding the election by an employee for a public hearing, any testimony by minor witnesses must be held in executive session and considered confidential personnel records and confidential student records, subject to an expectation of reasonable privacy and confidentiality. Public disclosure of these records may be by court order only.
(3) The district shall present evidence, either in written or oral form, at the hearing in support of its recommendation for nonreemployment.
* * * The employee shall be afforded an opportunity to present matters at the hearing relevant to the reasons given for the proposed nonreemployment determination and to the reasons the employee alleges to be the reasons for nonreemployment and to be represented by counsel at such a hearing. Such hearing shall be conducted in such a manner as to afford the parties a fair and reasonable opportunity to present witnesses and other evidence pertinent to the issues * * * and to cross-examine witnesses presented at the hearing. The board or the hearing officer may require any portion of the evidence to be submitted in the form of depositions or affidavits, and in case affidavits are received, an opportunity to present counter-affidavits shall be provided.
(4) The board shall cause to be made stenographic notes of the proceedings. In the event of a judicial appeal of the board's decision, the entire expense of the transcript and notes shall be assessed as court costs.
(5) The board shall review the matters presented before it, or, if the hearing is conducted by a hearing officer, the report of the hearing officer, if any, the record of the proceedings and, based solely thereon, conclude whether the proposed nonreemployment * * * is a proper employment decision, is based upon a valid educational reason or noncompliance with school district personnel policies and is based solely upon the evidence presented at the hearing, and shall notify the employee in writing of its final decision and reasons therefor. Such notification shall be within thirty (30) days of the conclusion of the hearing if the hearing is conducted by a hearing officer and within ten (10) days of the conclusion of the hearing if the hearing is initially conducted by the board. If the matter is heard before a hearing officer, the board shall also grant the employee the opportunity to appear before the board to present a statement in his own behalf, either in person or by his attorney, prior to a final decision by the board.
(6) In conducting a hearing, the board or hearing officer shall not be bound by common law or by statutory rules of evidence or by technical or formal rules of procedure except as provided in Sections 37-9-101 through 37-9-113, but may conduct such hearing in such manner as best to ascertain the rights of the parties; * * * however, hearsay evidence, if admitted, shall not be the sole basis for the determination of facts by the board or hearing officer.
(7) In the event the decision of the school board is in favor of the employee, the board shall have the authority to order the execution of a contract with the employee for an additional period of one (1) year.
(8) For purposes of conducting hearings under Sections 37-9-101 through 37-9-113, the board or hearing officer shall have the authority to issue subpoenas for witnesses and to compel their attendance and the giving of evidence. Any expense connected therewith shall be borne by the party requesting the subpoenas, which shall include an appearance fee for each witness so subpoenaed not inconsistent with state laws governing payments to witnesses. In the event it is necessary to enforce or to quash a subpoena issued to compel the attendance of a witness, application shall be made with the chancery court of the county where the school board is located.
SOURCES: Laws, 1974, ch. 577, § 6; Laws, 1977, ch. 489, § 4; Laws, 2001, ch. 459, § 6, HB 527, eff from and after July 1, 2001.
PREVIOUS VERSIONS: Pre-2001
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