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Brandon Dumas begins to appeal his firing as vice chancellor of Southern University during a meeting in the university’s J.S. Clark Administration Building on Friday, July 21, 2017.

Advocate photo by CAROLINE OURSO

Southern University's recent firing of Vice Chancellor Brandon Dumas was handled properly, and his lawsuit against the school should be dismissed, an attorney for the university argued to a state judge Friday.

"He was given all due process, plus some, for an at-will employee," Winston Decuir Jr., the school's lawyer, told District Judge Janice Clark.

Dumas' attorney, J.R. Whaley, disputed those arguments, telling the judge that Southern University System President Ray Belton's decision to fire Dumas was not affirmatively voted on by the Southern Board of Supervisors.

"That's what should have been done. It wasn't done," Whaley argued. "Dr. Dumas has not been terminated appropriately by the board."

Because of that, Whaley argued further, Dumas cannot file a damages lawsuit against the school at this time.

After listening to the arguments from Decuir and Whaley and then meeting privately with both sides for about 40 minutes in her chambers, Clark took the matter under advisement without indicating when she would issue a ruling.

Dumas, who was vice chancellor of student affairs and enrollment management, was put on administrative leave in June after the school announced it was investigating whether an employee and/or student were involved in a private video featuring sexually explicit images.

The video was widely circulated among campus faculty and alumni.

Belton later announced Dumas would be fired. Dumas appealed the decision to the Board of Supervisors and ultimately lost.

The woman in the video denied that Dumas was in it, Decuir has said previously.

Dumas alleges in his suit that the termination process was flawed and the vote to uphold his firing should be voided.

It was Southern board member Tony Clayton's motion that would have granted Dumas' appeal and instructed Belton to hold an investigation and return with a new recommendation in two months. However, the board voted 9-6 to deny the motion, which Decuir said made Dumas' termination final.

"The by-law was followed," Decuir argued Friday.

Whaley disagreed and said, "There was never a motion to approve Dr. Belton's recommendation."

After Friday's hearing, Decuir and Whaley both expressed confidence in their cases.

"The university feels it has pretty strong legal arguments supporting its position," Decuir said outside Clark's courtroom.

"We are governed by rules and laws. Southern University has to follow its own rules," Whaley added.

Southern has since fired two administrators who had worked under Dumas: Marcus Coleman, the university's dean of students, and Vaneshette Henderson, executive director of student achievement and retention.

The school cited a need for change in a statement about those firings.

     

          

Follow Joe Gyan Jr. on Twitter, @JoeGyanJr.