Little Rock School Board Defers Elected Leadership to Retained Attorney

Last night (Wednesday, 3.13), I sent the following email:

To: Norma Johnson, Michael Nellums, Leslie Fisken, Greg Adams, Jody Carreiro, Tommy Branch Jr., Dianne Curry

Cc: Senators Johnny Key, Bruce Holland, Alan Clark, Jim Hendren, Missy Irvin, Jason Rapert; Representatives Mark Biviano, James McLean, Randy Alexander, Denny Altes, Jonathan Barnett, Les Carnine, Bruce Cozart, Robert Dale, Gary Deffenbaugh, Dan Douglas, Justin Harris, John Hutchison, Mark Lowery, Micah Neal, James Ratliff, Sue Scott, Marky Slinkard, Tommy Wren

Subject: Little Rock School Board Position(s) on Proposed Legislation 

Dear Members of the Little Rock School Board,

Your attorney, Chris Heller, testified on your behalf today (Wednesday, 3.13) before the Senate Committee on Education in opposition to SB65 (link below), the Public School Choice Act of 2013, sponsored by Chairman Johnny Key, as well as the Senators and Representatives copied on this message.

As a parent and citizen of the Little Rock School District, I respectfully request that if you choose to take a position on bills before the legislature, that you read the bill(s), consider its/their merits, then vote on the position(s) the board will take.

It is an abrogation of your responsibilities and disrespectful of your fellow elected officials who have thoughtfully drafted and sponsored legislation to simply give your attorney carte blanche to support or oppose bills at will.

To the best of my knowledge, neither the Senate nor the House has ever hired an attorney and given him/her the freedom to oppose or support any measure he/she chooses before your board. Don’t our senators and representatives deserve the same consideration from you?

You already have the Arkansas School Boards Association taking positions on your behalf, whether you agree with them or not. And the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators is supposedly representing the interests of your superintendent, whether he agrees or not. And your LREA teachers are being represented by the Arkansas Education Association/NEA, again, whether they agree or not. The first two organizations are supported by dues paid by the district, while the third is supported by dues withheld by district payroll. All, incidentally, also testified against SB65.

While I strongly disagree with your continued appeals in federal court and deferral of your leadership to your attorneys, I recognize that is your position, as determined by vote. All I ask is that you afford the same consideration when it comes to opposing or supporting those duly elected to make the laws of the State of Arkansas.


Gary Newton
When Arkansas Learns, Arkansas Earns


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