Court of Appeals upholds decision to reassign Harrison County Sheriff’s deputy

A Harrison County Sheriff’s Department employee has lost an appeal to have her former position reinstated.

The Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that Sheriff Troy Peterson did nothing wrong in re-assigning Carolyn Prendergast from supervisor of the Communications Division to an investigator in the division.

Prendergast was promoted to the supervisor position by outgoing sheriff Melvin Brisolara after Peterson was elected to sheriff in August 2015 but before he took office.

After the election, Peterson created a transition team. In meeting with that team, he found that some decisions needed to be made to bring his department back into the budget and he also needed to take some steps to equalize salaries.

One of those decisions was to reassign Prendergast to investigator, which lowered her salary. Prendergast appealed to the Civil Service Commission for the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department calling the move a politically motivated demotion. The Commission upheld Peterson’s decision.

Prendergast then appealed to the Harrison County Circuit Court, which affirmed the decision. The court held that Peterson’s actions were supported by substantial evidence and were not arbitrary or capricious.

The state Court of Appeals found no error in these decisions and affirmed the court’s ruling.

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