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No. 05-02-01253-CV, 7/14/2003. Employment Law Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS: Joe L. Tave, a teacher who had been employed by the Dallas Independent School District (DISD), appeals the termination of his employment contract. Tave was employed under a term contract that would have terminated at the end of the 2002-2003 school year. In January 2001, some of Tave’s students discovered documents involving employee reprimands stored on the hard drive of Tave’s classroom computer. Although Tave “had concerns about the appropriateness of the information being on the computer,” he and the students read the documents. A student saved the documents on floppy disks. Tave gave the disks to his attorney and did not inform the school administration of his discovery. He did, however, tell other teachers about it, one of whom testified that Tave revealed “lots and lots” of confidential information. Tave allegedly stated that he intended to use the information to “blackmail” the school principal into leaving him alone. The principal discovered that Tave had the information; Tave was placed on administrative leave and eventually terminated. After the DISD terminated his employment, Tave appealed to the commissioner of education for Texas, but a hearing officer appointed by the commissioner found that DISD had good cause to terminate Tave’s employment. A three-member subcommittee of the DISD board of trustees adopted, by a 2-1 vote, the hearing examiner’s findings of fact and conclusions of law. Tave then appealed the commissioner’s decision in district court, but the trial judge affirmed the commissioner’s decision. This appeal followed, in which Tave argues that the trial court erred in affirming the commissioner’s decision; that the commissioner’s decision is not supported by substantial evidence; that the commissioner’s conclusions of law are erroneous; and that the decision of the DISD board of trustees subcommittee was arbitrary, capricious, unlawful or not supported by substantial evidence. HOLDING: Affirmed. At the outset, Tave argues that the board of trustees subcommittee did not “announce a decision” regarding his termination as required by the education code nor did the record show that the DISD board acted on the subcommittee’s recommendation and vote to terminate Tave’s employment. Consequently, Tave argues, he has never been terminated by the DISD and is entitled to his full salary and employment benefits pursuant to his contract with the DISD. The court disagrees, noting that the record contains a document entitled “Decision,” indicating that it is the decision of the subcommittee and stating that “After examining the record and considering the argument of the parties and their representatives . . . the Subcommittee decided to adopt and approve the findings of fact and conclusions of law and to terminate the contract of Joe L. Tave.” In fact, states the court, Tave’s earlier petition for review states that “Petitioner is aggrieved by a decision of a board of trustees subcommittee to terminate his contract,” indicating that the subcommittee announced a decision and that Tave appealed from that decision. Because they are interrelated, the court addresses Tave’s contentions that the commissioner’s conclusions of law are erroneous, that the commissioner’s decision was not supported by substantial evidence and that the trial court erred in affirming the commissioner’s decision together. The court acknowledges that, under applicable law, it may not reverse the commissioner’s decision unless the decision is not supported by substantial evidence or unless the commissioner’s conclusions of law are erroneous. The test for substantial evidence is whether reasonable minds could have reached the same conclusion as the commissioner, based on Tex. State Bd. of Dental Examiners v. Sizemore, 759 S.W.2d 114, 116 (Tex. 1988). With respect to conclusions of law, the commissioner’s reason is immaterial as long as his conclusion is correct. In other words, the court must uphold the decision on any legal basis shown in the record. In addition, the commissioner’s construction of the relevant statute is entitled to serious consideration as long as the construction is reasonable and does not contradict the plain meaning of the statute. Therefore, the court finds that in addressing the “good cause” issue, the commissioner correctly stated that the central issue in this case is whether, using the definition of ‘good cause’ set forth in Lee-Wright Inc. v. Hall,840 S.W.2d 572, 580 (Tex. App.-Houston [lst Dist.] 1992, no writ) there is good cause to terminate Tave’s contract. Tave offers no analysis of the correct definition of “good cause” or how he was harmed by the commissioner’s use of the Lee-Wright definition. The court concludes that under any definition of “good cause,” the commissioner’s conclusion of law that Tave’s conduct in permitting the dissemination if the reprimands could cause the public, students or employees to lose confidence in the administration and integrity of the District is supported by substantial evidence and is not erroneous. Thus, the trial court did not err in affirming the commissioner’s decision. OPINION: Bridges, J.; Bridges, O’Neill and Fitzgerald, JJ.

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