This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
Hector E. Castillo-Fernandez,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed August 15, 2000
Department of Economic Security
Agency File No. 3015 99
Hector E. Castillo-Fernandez, 1220 Powderhorn Terrace, No. 25, Minneapolis, MN 55407 (pro se relator)
Humboldt Senior, 30 Baker Street, St. Paul, MN 55105 (respondent)
Kent E. Todd, Department of Economic Security, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner of Economic Security)
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge, Davies, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.
Relator Hector E. Castillo-Fernandez challenges the commissioner’s representative’s determination that he is disqualified from receiving reemployment compensation benefits because he quit his employment without a good reason caused by his employer. We affirm.
Respondent Humboldt Senior employed relator as a teacher. Relator had a limited teaching license. In May 1998, Humboldt principal, Steve Lindberg, notified relator that the reasons for allowing him to teach with a limited license no longer existed and that the school district would not sign off on a limited license again. In July 1998, after a delay caused by Janet Magnuson, Humboldt’s assistant human resources director, relator obtained a two-year, provisional, standard teaching license.
In August 1998, relator was assigned to a different school. Relator viewed the transfer as a demotion. After complaining to his union, he was reassigned to Humboldt.
In March 1999, after observing one of relator’s classes, Lindberg wrote in a report that the students finished an in-class assignment 17 minutes before the class ended, and relator sat at his desk without making use of the time. The report stated that relator “should be monitored to assure proper use of teaching time!” The report also stated that relator had a heavy Spanish accent and was hard to understand. But the commissioner’s representative expressly found that although relator had an accent, he was “readily understandable.”
In April 1999, the director of relator’s department, Valeria Silva, wrote a report after observing one of relator’s classes. The report noted that relator failed to: (1) have a lesson plan prepared; (2) use demonstrations or explanations in teaching a science class; (3) encourage active student involvement in discussions and activities; (4) call on a variety of students; (5) provide challenging materials for students’ acceleration; (6) effectively monitor students’ behaviors during instructional activities; (7) stop inappropriate behavior promptly and consistently; (8) maintain a positive-feeling tone in the classroom; (9) enforce safety rules appropriate to the school student-conduct procedures; and (10) use time efficiently. Relator felt the report was unduly critical and nonconstructive and sent a memorandum to Silva expressing his disagreement with her comments.
In May 1999, Magnuson, observed one of relator’s classes but left after five minutes. Relator believed she left because she disapproved of the way he was teaching civil rights.
Humboldt hired an outside observer, Dody LeGault, to observe relator in June 1999. LeGault wrote a report stating:
Overall, if [relator] were one of my teachers, I would not be particularly concerned. However, I do not know much of the history that prompted your request for an observation. Certainly, [relator] has some areas where improvement is needed; yet, all appear to be things he can work on.
* * * *
Teaching and learning were apparent. Both classes today began promptly, and students kept on task the entire hour. [Relator] respects his students, is kind to them, and seems to have a good rapport with them and with his colleagues (interpreters and nearby teachers).
During fourth hour we discussed my concerns and ways to improve (e.g., lesson plans, ending class, clarifying directions, etc.). He was receptive to my suggestions.
Relator requested noncompensatory leave during the 1999-2000 school year so that he could fulfill a student-teaching requirement for a full teaching license. Humboldt denied the request.
On September 8, 1999, relator attended a meeting with the district superintendent, Patricia Harvey; an area superintendent; the business agent for the St. Paul Federation of Teachers; Humboldt’s executive human resources director; and Lindberg to discuss performance expectations for relator for the 1999-2000 school year. At the meeting, concerns about relator’s job performance were raised. Harvey told relator that the district wanted to place him on a performance-improvement plan. Relator testified that Harvey unfairly considered only Silva’s report and not the more favorable report by the outside observer and also refused to listen to relator’s concerns that he was being discriminated against. On September 9, 1999, relator submitted his resignation, effective September 10, 1999, citing discrimination and retaliation as the reasons for the resignation.
The commissioner’s representative concluded:
[Relator] testified that he terminated his employment because he had been subjected to harassment and discrimination by the employer. In support of these contentions, [relator] cited his performance evaluations and the improvement plan proposed by the employer.
We find [relator’s] claims of harassment and discrimination to be without merit. After a review of the evidence, we are unable to conclude that the evaluations and observation reports conducted during [relator’s] period of employment were unfounded or unjustified. It is well within management’s discretion to reasonably evaluate and criticize an employee’s work record and to place an employee who is performing unsatisfactorily on an improvement plan. We are, therefore, not persuaded that the employer herein acted arbitrarily, in placing [relator] on an improvement plan, or that the terms of [relator’s] continued employment as conveyed to him on September 8, 1999 were unreasonable.
In a reemployment compensation proceeding, all fact issues shall be determined by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning “evidence in substantiation of a fact that, when weighed against the evidence opposing the fact, is more convincing and has a greater probability of truth.” Minn. Stat. § 268.03, subd. 2 (1998). Findings of fact must be reviewed in the light most favorable to the decision and will not be disturbed if there is evidence reasonably tending to support them. White v. Metropolitan Med. Ctr., 332 N.W.2d 25, 26 (Minn. 1983).
An employee who quits a job is disqualified from receiving reemployment compensation benefits unless the employee quit “because of a good reason caused by the employer.” Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1) (Supp. 1999).
(a) A good reason caused by the employer for quitting is a reason:
(1) that is directly related to the employment and for which the employer is responsible; and
(2) that is significant and would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit and become unemployed rather than remaining in the employment.
Minn. Stat. § 269.095, subd. 3 (Supp. 1999). Whether an employee had a good reason caused by the employer for quitting is a question of law. Zepp v. Arthur Treacher Fish & Chips, Inc., 272 N.W.2d 262, 263 (Minn. 1978). This court exercises its independent judgment on questions of law. Ress v. Abbott Northwestern Hosp., Inc., 448 N.W.2d 519, 523 (Minn. 1989).
Relator argues that he quit employment because of discrimination. As evidence of discrimination, he cites Magnuson’s refusal to sign off on his application to renew his limited teaching license in 1998, the attempt to transfer him from Humboldt to another school, the denial of his request for leave during the 1999-2000 school year, and the unannounced observations of his classes and critical reports by Lindberg and Silva. But the record contains no evidence supporting relator’s assertions that these acts were discriminatory. Relator testified that Magnuson refused to sign off on a limited license for him in 1998, while Humboldt allowed other unlicensed teachers to continue work. But relator did not identify any unlicensed teachers working at Humboldt. Relator also testified that he did his lesson plans in a format approved by the St. Paul Federation of Teachers and the St. Paul Board of Education, but he did not present evidence showing the format of his lesson plans or the approved format.
The commissioner’s representative found that relator’s claims that Humboldt discriminated against him were not credible. This court defers to the commissioner’s representative’s credibility determinations. Hanke v. Safari Hair Adventure, 512 N.W.2d 614, 617 (Minn. App. 1994). In light of the absence of evidence supporting relator’s discrimination claims and the commissioner’s representative’s assessment of witness credibility, the commissioner’s representative’s finding that relator’s claims of harassment and discrimination lacked merit is not erroneous.
Because there is no basis in the record to conclude that Humboldt acted arbitrarily or discriminatorily in deciding to place relator on a performance improvement plan, we cannot conclude that relator quit his employment because of a good reason caused by the employer. See Trego v. Hennepin County Family Day Care Ass’n, 409 N.W.2d 23, 26 (Minn. App. 1987) (frustration or dissatisfaction with working conditions or management does not constitute good cause to quit employment).
To support his discrimination claim, relator appended to his brief and reply brief numerous documents that were not admitted into evidence at the hearing before the reemployment compensation judge or by the commissioner’s representative, including 1994 and 1995 performance evaluations, letters of recommendation, award certificates, and other favorable reports. This court will not consider evidence that was not admitted during the administrative proceeding. Appelhof v. Commissioner of Jobs & Training, 450 N.W.2d 589, 591 (Minn. App. 1990).