Ex parte Ronald Hampton, et al.Annotate this Case
Brenda Franks was a former nontenured employee of the Choctaw County Public School System. Before the 2008-2009 school year, Franks had been employed as a full-time counselor in the school system for three years when her contract was not renewed. For the 2008-2009 school year, Franks was offered and accepted a part-time, temporary position as a vocational counselor starting in February 2009. She signed an employment contract acknowledging that the position was temporary. She also signed a "Letter of Understanding Concerning Temporary Employment." Franks worked pursuant to the contract for five months. The superintendent notified Franks, in writing, of her intention to recommend that the School Board members cancel the contract because of a "justifiable decrease in jobs in the system." The Board members approved the recommendation to cancel the contract. Franks did not contest the cancellation. In July 2010, the Board members posted a vacancy for a business-education teacher. Franks applied for the position, but was not hired. Franks sued the Board and Superintendent, asserting that the Board members had terminated her employment based on a reduction in force ("RIF"), but that she was entitled to be hired for the teaching position pursuant to the RIF policy. Franks sought to be instated to that position, with backpay, interest, and restoration of progress toward tenure. However, Franks died prior to the conclusion of this suit. Petitioners Ronald Hampton, Darry Phillips, Wayne Taylor, Isaac Johnson, and Sharon Sheppard, the individual members of the Choctaw County Board of Education, and Sue Moore, the superintendent of the Choctaw County Public School System sought an order compelling the Choctaw Circuit Court to vacate its denial of their summary-judgment motion and to enter summary judgment in their favor on the ground that the trial court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over the claims because of plaintiff's death and the petitioners' immunity. The Supreme Court concluded that the superintendent and the Board members demonstrated immunity and established a clear legal right to a summary judgment on the claims asserted against them in their official capacities. Therefore, the Supreme Court granted the petition and issued a writ directing the Choctaw Circuit Court to vacate its order denying the petitioners' summary-judgment motion and to enter a summary judgment on all the claims asserted against the superintendent and the Board members.