FROM THE NEVADA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 50CV-14-5]
HONORABLE DUNCAN CULPEPPER, JUDGE
Mitchell, Blackstock, Ivers & Sneddon, PLLC, by: Greg
Alagood, for appellant.
Bequette & Billingsly, P.A., by: George J. Bequette, Jr.,
and W. Cody Kees, for appellee.
RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, Judge
Kim Hall appeals the order of the Nevada County Circuit Court
awarding summary judgment to the Prescott School District
(the District). The core of this case is whether teaching
prekindergarten (pre-K) qualifies as performing the duties of
a full-time teacher under Arkansas Code Annotated section
6-17-2403(c)(3)(A) (Repl. 2015). We hold that the circuit
court incorrectly awarded summary judgment because, in
answering the question of what constitutes a full-time
teacher, the circuit court improperly made a factual finding
regarding the material fact that is in dispute in this case.
Accordingly, we reverse and remand this case for further
proceedings consistent with this opinion.
28, 2011, Hall entered into a teacher's contract with the
District to be employed as an elementary school teacher for
the 2011-2012 school year. When she signed the contract, the
superintendent of the District gave her credit for seven
years of teaching experience beginning in 1998 but declined
to give her credit for six years of teaching experience from
2005 through 2011. Her contract with
the District was renewed May 16, 2012 for the 2012-2013
school year. On February 5, 2014, Hall filed her complaint
against the District in the Nevada County Circuit Court
alleging that the District had failed to pay her based on her
years of teaching experience in accordance with the
minimum-salary schedule, as required by Arkansas Code
Annotated section 6-17-2403. The District filed a timely
answer to the complaint on March 3, 2014.
January 15, 2016, Hall filed her motion for summary judgment
and brief in support thereof. Attached to her motion was her
affidavit, which delineated her work history from 1998
through 2011. Hall asserted that at the beginning of the
2011-2012 school year, she had thirteen years of experience,
which included her time both as an elementary school teacher
and as a pre-K teacher. Hall argued in her motion that she
was underpaid $2, 700 for the 2011-2012 school year and $2,
700 for the 2012-2013 school year.
District filed a response to Hall's motion for summary
judgment and a countermotion for summary judgment on February
1, 2016. Attached was the affidavit of Robert Poole, the
superintendent of the District. Poole's affidavit
provided that, under District personnel policies and
practices, the District does not credit teachers with years
of experience when they are teaching at a pre-K program
because such teachers do not perform the full-time duties of
a teacher as required by Arkansas law. Hall was given credit
on the salary schedule for seven years of elementary teaching
experience from 1998 through 2005, but was not given credit
for an additional six years of teaching experience in pre-K
programs from 2005 through 2011. Poole stated that Hall had
specific knowledge of the District's policy and practice
when she signed her employment contract with the District.
responded to the District's countermotion for summary
judgment on February 22, 2016, and attached her affidavit in
which she stated that at the time she entered into her
contract with the District, she had no knowledge that the
District had a policy or practice that did not give certified
personnel credit for years of teaching experience in a pre-K
program and that she had no agreement with the District that
she would not be paid in accordance with the salary schedule.
Hall asserted that her six years of experience in a pre-K
program was "unquestionably" performing the
full-time duties of a teacher for a full school year with a
valid Arkansas teaching license.
5, 2016, the circuit court held a hearing on the parties'
competing motions for summary judgment. The court found, as a
matter of law, that years of teaching experience in a pre-K
program do not count toward performing full-time duties of a
teacher for a full school year with a valid Arkansas teaching
license within the meaning of Arkansas Code Annotated section
Code Annotated section 6-17-2403 provides the following:
(c)(1) For purposes of the salary schedules described in this
section, the teacher's experience is his or her total
years' experience as a teacher with a valid Arkansas
teaching license and teaching at any:
(A) Public school accredited by the Department of Education
or a nationally recognized accrediting association;
(B) Private school within the State of Arkansas accredited by
a nationally recognized ...