ARROYO v. BOARD OF EDUCATION
851 A.2d 576 (2003)
381 Md. 646
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF HOWARD COUNTY.
No. 114, September Term, 2003.
Court of Appeals of Maryland.
June 10, 2004.
Francis A. Pommett, III (Law Offices of Nathanson & Pommett, P.C., Baltimore), on brief, for Appellant.
Michael S. Molinaro (Reese & Carney, LLP, Columbia), on brief, for Appellee.
Argued Before BELL, C.J., RAKER, WILNER, CATHELL, HARRELL, BATTAGLIA and GREENE, JJ.
This case concerns a decision by the Board of Education of Howard County ("County Board"), respondent, to terminate the employment of Robert Arroyo, petitioner, a guidance counselor employed by the Howard County Public School System ("HCPSS"),1 and whether the later affirmance of that decision by the Maryland State Board of Education ("State Board") constituted an exhaustion of petitioner's administrative remedies. Prior to the instant case, petitioner had previously contested his termination through the administrative procedures available to him under Md.Code (1978, 2001 Repl.Vol., 2003 Supp.), § 6-202 of the Education Article. After a May 28, 1998 decision by the State Board that affirmed the County Board's decision to terminate petitioner's employment, petitioner sought judicial review of the State Board's decision under Md.Code (1984, 1999 Repl.Vol.), § 10-222 of the State Government Article. Upon judicial review, the State Board's decision was affirmed by the Circuit Court for Howard County on April 8, 1999, and by the Court of Special Appeals on June 14, 2000.2 On February 8, 2002, petitioner then filed this separate civil complaint sounding in tort against the County Board and Howard County, Maryland, alleging wrongful termination from his employment with HCPSS.3
In the present case, the County Board filed an answer to petitioner's February 8, 2002 complaint and, on May 29, 2002, moved for summary judgment, arguing that petitioner's claim was barred by the statute of limitations. On April 15, 2003, the Honorable Lenore Gelfman of the Circuit Court for Howard County held a hearing on the motion. On May 5, 2003, Judge Gelfman issued a memorandum opinion and order granting the County Board's motion for summary judgment, holding that petitioner's lawsuit was barred by the statute of limitations. Petitioner then appealed this decision to the Court of Special Appeals. On February 2, 2004, prior to consideration by the Court of Special Appeals, we issued a Writ of Certiorari. Arroyo v. Board of Education, 379 Md. 224, 841 A.2d 339 (2004). Petitioner presents one question for our review:
"Was [the Circuit Court] legally correct in determining that [petitioner's] administrative remedies were exhausted following the decision of the Maryland State Board of Education rather than after judicial review as provided in Sections 10-222 and 10-223 of the State Government Article, so as to start the statute of limitations running on his tort claim for wrongful discharge on the earlier date?" [Alterations added.]
We hold that the State Board's May 28, 1998 decision affirming petitioner's termination from his employment with HCPSS was the final decision of the administrative body and constituted an exhaustion of petitioner's administrative remedies and, as such, he was free to have his separate action in tort alleging wrongful termination adjudicated at least by that time, and perhaps could, as we note infra, have filed it even sooner subject to the separate action being stayed during the administrative proceedings.4 Therefore, the threeyear statute of limitations on this claim, as provided under § 5-101 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, began to run no later than May 28, 1998.5 Petitioner's action of waiting to file a separate action in tort until February 8, 2002, more than three years after the State Board's final decision, was thus barred by the statute of limitations.I. Facts