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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Brian Dotson filed a Level I grievance with his employer, the Grand Prairie Independent School District. saying he had not been compensated for extra work he did in an after-school detention program. His request for back-pay was denied in a written response. Dotson filed a Level II grievance challenging this denial. The assistant superintendent of human resources granted Dotson’s request for one-year’s worth of back-pay. The assistant superintendent also said Dotson would be reassigned to the high school. Because Dotson believed he was entitled to four years of back-pay, he filed a Level III grievance. At this point, Dotson says he was retaliated against, in the form of being denied duty-free lunch periods, planning periods and reasonable access to the restrooms. Dotson added these matters to his grievance. The school district’s board of trustees considered Dotson’s back-pay and retaliation claims. Dotson says the board denied the grievance, though a decision by the board is not in the record. Dotson then filed a petition with the commissioner of education, alleging jurisdiction under Education Code 7.057. Before the commissioner could rule, however, Dotson filed a petition in trial court for failure to pay back-pay and for retaliation. He sought the back-pay and an injunction. Dotson non-suited his claims with the commissioner, and his claims were dismissed with prejudice. The school district thus answered Dotson’s trial court petition with a plea to the jurisdiction, saying Dotson had not exhausted his administrative remedies. The trial court granted this motion, dismissing the case for lack of jurisdiction. HOLDING:Affirmed. The court characterizes Dotson’s claims as based on the school district’s alleged breach of the employment contract and alleged violation of a school policy allegedly incorporated into that contract. These types of claims, the court holds, are within the jurisdiction of the education commissioner, and Dotson was required to exhaust his administrative remedies with the commissioner before proceeding to trial court. The court acknowledges that there are several exceptions to the exhaustion requirement. The court finds none of them applicable except, perhaps, the exception for potential irreparable harm. The court rules, though, that Dotson cannot prove irreparable harm. Agreeing that the commission may not, in fact, have been able to grant the relief that Dotson sought (i.e., an injunction) does not mean that Dotson’s claims fall under the irreparable harm exception. Dotson must also show how the school district’s alleged acts of retaliation would cause him irreparable harm for which a later award of damages would not provide adequate compensation. Dotson fails to show how the school district’s alleged actions would cause him any harm other than economic harm for which a later award of damages would provide adequate compensation. Therefore, the irreparable harm exception is not applicable to Dotson’s claims, the court rules. Any constitutional argument that Dotson raises does not stand on its own, the court adds, and so it cannot serve as the basis for an excuse from first exhausting his state administrative remedies. OPINION:Morris, J.; Morris, Whittington and O’Neill, JJ.

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