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Sims v. Dir., Dep't of Workforce Servs.

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division II

October 1, 2014

PAUL SIMS, APPELLANT,
v.
DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF WORKFORCE SERVICES, and BISMARCK PUBLIC SCHOOLS, APPELLEES

APPEAL fro THE ARKANSAS BOARD OF REVIEW. NO. 2013-BR-01943.

Baker, Schulze & Murphy, by: J.G. " Gerry" Schulze, for appellant.

Phyllis A. Edwards, for appellee.

BILL H. WALMSLEY, Judge. PITTMAN and HIXSON, JJ., agree.

OPINION

Page 571

BILL H. WALMSLEY, Judge

Appellant Paul Sims appeals from the Board of Review's decision on July 26, 2013, affirming and adopting the Appeal Tribunal's determination that Sims was discharged from his job at Bismarck Public Schools for misconduct connected with the work.[1] Sims argues that the Board's decision is not supported by substantial evidence. We reverse and remand for an award of benefits.

Sims was hired as the high school counselor in August 1995 and discharged on June 30, 2009. Sims had only one evaluation in his fourteen years with Bismarck Public Schools. The evaluation dated February 27, 2009, shortly before his termination, indicates that Sims was " proficient," and even " distinguished," in all areas of his job with the exception that he had received a score of " basic" with respect to the accuracy of his records.

In February 2008, the Department of Education conducted a standards review at Bismarck Public Schools, and the review revealed that one student was permitted to graduate in 2007 without the proper credits. Specifically, the student had 2.5 math credits when the State required three.

Page 572

Sims was advised in a letter from the principal, Jarrod Bray, dated May 27, 2008, of " a transcript issue." Bray informed Sims that, as the high school counselor, it was his job to ensure that all students had the appropriate number and type of credits required by the district and the State. Bray directed Sims to develop " a check system" and to review and update the students' transcripts before the start of school in August to avoid " further issues of this nature."

At the school district's request, there was an audit of the students' transcripts in December 2008. The audit indicated that twenty-one out of fifty-six seniors were not scheduled to take a fourth math credit, which was a new requirement by the State for seniors graduating in 2009.

On April 15, 2009, Superintendent David Hopkins informed Sims that he would recommend that his contract not be renewed, citing the standards review in February 2008 and the audit in December 2008. Hopkins made his recommendation to the school board, which voted unanimously to terminate Sims's contract.

In the employer's statement with the Department of Workforce Services, Sims's duties are described as " duties assigned to a high school counselor." The form indicates that Sims violated " company & State" policy in that, " Seniors must have by State standards a certain number of [credits] in math to be able to graduate. A large number of our Seniors did not have them." The form also states that Sims was made aware of the policy through the " employer's handbook" and " verbally" and that he was advised of the policy in ...


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