El Dorado News

Tuesday
July 17, 2018
El Dorado News Times
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News-Times

State allowed to defend transfer rule in Junction City case

By Compiled by News-Times staff from Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and staff reports
This article was published July 11, 2018 at 5:00 a.m.

U.S. District Judge Susan O. Hickey granted a motion Monday allowing the state to argue in favor of the Junction City School District participating in Arkansas School Choice Act student transfers.

The state now has until July 20 to submit its written arguments in support of interdistrict transfers in Junction City.

Superintendent Robby Lowe could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The School Choice Act allows students to attend a school in another district than the one they reside in. The Arkansas Department of Education caps the number of transfers to 3 percent of the last year’s enrollment for the district. Exemptions can be issued if participating would conflict with a federal court desegregation order or court-ordered desegregation orders. In order to be exempt, the district must send proof to the state annually by Jan. 1.

Lowe said in March that having Junction City participate would “violate the spirit of the 1969 and 1974 federal court orders” that call for schools to desegregate.

According to ADE staff attorney, Jennifer Davis, the Junction City School District filed on time, but made references to a plan of desegregation that wasn’t included.

Davis said in March that the district could resubmit with the plan of desegregation that wasn’t included. However, the district filed an appeal with the State Board of Education rather than resubmitting.

Three other districts – Hope, Lafayette County and Camden Fairview – in the state have filed similar lawsuits with Hickey approving motions for the state to participate in the case for all except Camden Fairview.

The districts are all arguing that allowing such transfers would result in a “white flight” out of the county and thus put their school systems in conflict with federal court-ordered school desegregation.

ADE has issued exemptions to seven school districts in the state, including the El Dorado School District, according to the website.

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