After nearly three hours of testimony and interviewing witnesses in a closed session, Pea Ridge School Board members deliberated for five minutes in private then returned to open session to accept school superintendent Rick Neal's recommendation to terminate Bonnie Fullmer as allowed by the Teacher Fair Dismissal Act.
Fullmer, testing and accountability director for the Pea Ridge School District, was on paid leave following an incident involving her reportedly gaining access to a school employee's personal phone under false pretenses, according to a termination letter dated Dec. 20, 2017.
According to written statements from three school employees, Fullmer obtained the phone in order to delete a text she sent to a school administrator. In an email, Fullmer submitted a response for inclusion in her personnel file. In the response, she admitted to accessing the cell phone and said it was a "one time lapse in judgment... a spur of the moment decision...." She stated she believed other disciplinary measures could have been taken and said she had a "stellar record" and had 27 and a half years in education.
Fullmer was represented by attorney Bryan Vernitti of Rogers. Attorney Marshell Ney of Rogers represented the School District.
Vernitti requested a closed hearing on Fullmer's behalf saying it was in the best interest of justice.
Three witnesses were sequestered in a separate room, then called in one by one to speak before the board.
The hearing began at 5:30 p.m. Board members exited the hearing room at 8:32 p.m. to go into executive session to deliberate, then returned to the hearing room at 8:37 p.m.
Board president John Dye announced the board members' decision to accept the superintendent's recommendation. The four board members present -- Dye, Jeff Neil, Jenny Wood and Sandy Button -- all voted in favor of the recommendation. The meeting was adjourned at 8:40 p..m. and Fullmer immediately left the building.
Reasons listed in the termination letter include:
Obtaining the access code of a school employee's personal phone under false pretense;
Intentionally and without authorization accessing a school employee's personal phone;
Intentionally and without authorization deleting text messages from a school employee's personal phone;
Unethical behavior; and
Violation of Code of Ethics for Arkansas Educators Standard 2.
Fullmer was entitled to a hearing before the School Board, if she elected to appeal the termination, according to state law.
Hired in 2003 as principal of Pea Ridge Middle School, Fullmer was most recently serving in the administrative office.
General News on 02/14/2018
Print Headline: Fullmer termination upheld