The City of Clinton and Clinton School District were notified in a memo dated Sept. 15 that preparations were being made to file a federal lawsuit against the two organizations by former School Resource Officer Steve Bradley. In the memo, an offer is made for settlement of $200,000.
The memo, signed by Little Rock Attorney Robert A. Newcomb, gives the city and school district 21 days to respond or the case “… will be filed and proceed to litigation.”
The memo, which had a copy of the lawsuit draft attached, states: “… As you can see from the lawsuit this is a retaliation claim that the school superintendent Mr. Vining who had control and authority to act on behalf of the school district fired Mr. Bradley because he was unwilling to waive his rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act and insisted that he be paid over-time for all hours worked in excess of 43 hours weekly. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that police officers received over-time. They’re not professionals like teacher are and exempt. Mr. Vining’s actions were not proper under the statute.”
The memo continues: “As a result of the termination from the School District, the City then continued the retaliation by assigning Mr. Bradley to a very undesirable shift with less money.”
Later in the two-page memo: “At the present time with the damages that can be proved the recovery could be well in excess of $200,000. As a settlement demand to cover all claims including attorney’s fees, court costs, pre-judgement interest and others a demand is being made for $200,000.”
This is followed by the 21 day response window. The memo was received at City Hall Sept. 21.
Clinton Schools Superintendent Andrew Vining and City of Clinton Mayor Richard McCormac had no statement about the memo and possible lawsuit, or settlement.
Newcomb said the lawsuit draft named both the city and the school district as they were “dual employers” of Bradley. Bradley, per the lawsuit draft attached to the memo, began working for the school district in 2003 and tracked his hours above 43 hours per week as “comp time” at time-and-a-half.
The draft asserts that Vining, after he became superintendent in 2015, was displeased by the amount of comp hours Bradley was gaining every year. This led to, the draft asserts, Vining cutting Bradley’s pay then demanding he sign a “flat salary” contract as used for teachers. Bradley refused to sign such a contract. This, the draft states, led to Bradley’s 2016 termination by Vining.
Clinton Schools has had some up and downs with School Resource Officers (SRO) since Bradley’s 2016 departure from that role. Clinton Police were working the school area along with other patrol duties, but a summer Quorum Court meeting had the funding approved for a Sheriff’s Department Investigator, Wesley Potts, to take the role of resource officer. This moved Clinton School Resource officer from a city police role to a county sheriff’s department role. Potts resigned as SRO after four days. At Monday night’s School Board meeting Deputy David Hess was put forth to take over the school resource officer role. Board members expressed concern that there was no written job description for the role.