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Ousted official appeals decision
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Forsyth County News
Forsyth County’s former planning director is challenging the county commission’s recent decision to fire him.

Jeff Chance and his attorney, Eric Chofnas, sent an informal notice of appeal on Tuesday to the county personnel services director and Commission Chairman Charles Laughinghouse.

The notice is the first required step in securing a civil service hearing.

“We’re going to pursue all avenues, and we’re starting with an administrative appeal,” Chofnas said.

He confirmed that Chance is seeking to have the commission’s decision reversed and regain his job.

The letter cites five reasons for the appeal, including: “selectively applied” and “unreasonably vague” standards or policies; violation of procedural due process; and “excessive and unjustified disciplinary action.”

Another basis for requesting the hearing states: “Termination of Mr. Chance’s employment is not supported by sufficient evidence of ‘good cause.’”

The notice also states that the action is in violation of the Georgia Whistleblowers Act, which is the basis of Chance’s lawsuit against the county.

The suit contends that Chance’s rights as a whistleblower were violated when an investigation into his management practices and computer use was launched as “retaliatory action” to his report that Planning Commissioner Brant Meadows had allegedly threatened his job.

Chofnas said the county’s response to the lawsuit is expected Friday.

The results of the investigation, which found 12 violations of county policies, were cited as the commission’s reason for firing him on Aug. 19.

Chance’s informal notice is the first step toward receiving a review by the civil service board, said Charity Clark, the panel’s clerk and county risk manager.

“[An informal notice] gives the department head or elected official the ability to reconsider the decision,” she said.

A department head or elected official, depending on who had the final authority in the decision, Clark said, is required to respond to Chance in writing within 10 days.

If not satisfied with the response, Chance will then have five days to send a formal appeal to the civil service board.

Provided all criteria are met, the appeal will be heard within 60 days, unless the civil service board grants an extension.