Attorney for longtime Conway High School football coach wants to appeal decision to oust him

Attorney for longtime Conway High School football coach wants to appeal decision to oust him

From WMBF News partner MyHorryNews:

The attorney for ousted Conway High School football coach Chuck Jordan believes that leaving Jordan's case the way it stands now will be disastrous for teachers and coaches everywhere, so he's asked for a public hearing before the Horry County School Board.

But Horry County Schools spokesperson Teal Britton says that isn't likely.

Myrtle Beach attorney Tommy Brittain wrote a letter this past week to Superintendent Rick Maxey, Horry County School Board Chairman Joe DeFeo and Horry County School District attorney Kennith Generette asking for the Horry County School Board to review Maxey's decision to retire what Brittain calls "one of the finest football coaches in the State of South Carolina."

Brittain said because Jordan's charges of third-degree assault and battery were dismissed without any prosecution, he was shocked when Maxey didn't put the longtime coach back to work right away.

Instead Maxey decided to allow Jordan to stay on administrative leave with pay until Nov. 30 when his contract expires and then not renew his contract.

When city attorney Sanford "Sam" Graves decided there was no case against Jordan and dropped the charge, Brittain said, "I thought that was the end of it and I expected Jordan to go back to work as a football coach. "

But, he said, time kept passing without any official notification about Jordan's status.

Then Wednesday, Brittain says Maxey called Jordan into his office where the two talked a little about the situation and Brittain expected Jordan to go back to work the next day.

"As far as I know there was no hearing, there was no evidence. His lawyer was not invited to that meeting," he said.

The next day he sums up Maxey's statement to Jordan as, "It's a tough call, but you're fired."

Jordan was formally charged in June after a incident in which he was called to a Conway High School hallway to calm a situation involving special needs student Ka'Brian Javar Hickman, whose charges for disorderly conduct were also dismissed by a judge. A warrant calling for Jordan's arrest said the former coach touched Martin as he dealt with the situation.

In his letter to the trio of school officials, Brittain said he was disappointed and stunned by Maxey's decision to prevent Jordan from coaching his football team.

He believes that the result will be that teachers and coaches everywhere, especially those nearing retirement, will worry now that everything little thing they do will be examined under a microscope and there will be negative consequences for them.

"They're going to be less likely to do their duty in a situation like this and that's very dangerous," Brittain said.

Brittain said he hasn't studied the issue of an appeal, but points to DeFeo as having said something that made him think it's possible.

"It's an issue bigger than Church Jordan," he said, adding that he doesn't think this case is over yet.

Brittain says he expected to get some type of formal notice from Maxey or the school board about Jordan's future, but as of today he had not gotten anything.

"I don't get it," Brittain said. "This started with some kid that was scared going in there to get Jordan."

He says Jordan called police and tried unsuccessfully twice to get in touch with Conway High School Principal Lee James.

"Generally speaking in any kind of governmental position the basic right to appeal is there. You don't have to accept one person's decision without a review, so I believe this is reviewable by the school board, and I may find out different later," Brittain said.

Schools spokesperson Britton says, "From what I have been told, the decision for him (Jordan) to be placed on administrative leave with pay isn't appealable," but she agrees that a comment made recently to a reporter made it sound as if it is possible.

Because Jordan will be paid through the end of his contract and because, after that, he would have become an at-will employee, there is no economic harm, according to Britton, who also said, at-will employees have no appealable rights.

"If he had been terminated, then he would have had a right to appeal, but there's no economic injury," she said.

When it comes to at-will employees either party can separate at any time, she said.

Brittain believes the school district has a duty to press the issue to a broader conclusion than just one man.

He believes this incident has harmed the longtime coach that he believes most people love and admire.

"It's still a black eye for him and that's one thing, but I have people in here every now and then that really their case is bigger than them, and that's really where I see this. I think this is an issue. As a community we need to decide how something like this is going to be handled…We know what they did. Now let's figure out how we treat both of them because it will affect the decisions and actions of others in similar circumstances.

"We have got to respect and back people that are trying to do the right thing. It's just another nail in the coffin," he said,

It might not be the biggest thing, but it's certainly a big thing, the attorney said.

"I've had a lot of teachers come up to me and say, 'Man, what are you supposed to do?' I think it's a genuine concern."

He believes the long-term impact of Jordan's case will turn out better if there is public input and discussion in a process that he believes, so far, has been "shady, sort of closed, not very open" and that has led to a "poorly reasoned decision."

Brittain points out that time is important here because football season has already started.

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