Of the 237 school districts in Arkansas, 221 fully participate in inter-district School Choice, the right of parents/guardians, regardless of residence, to choose the public school(s) that best serve(s) the needs of their student(s).
Act 560, sponsored by Senator Alan Clark, the Public School Choice Act of 2015, requires that in order to exempt from interdistrict school choice, a district must:
“…submit proof from a federal court to the Department of Education that the school district has a genuine conflict under an active desegregation order or active court-approved desegregation plan with the interdistrict school choice provisions of this subchapter.”
While the seven school districts of Garland County have been directed by a U.S. District Judge not to participate, nine districts, including the Pulaski County Special and the new Jacksonville/North Pulaski School Districts, are inappropriately exempting from the law. In fact, PCSSD, JNPSD and Dollarway, are the only three districts among the 12-county Metro Little Rock Alliance to exempt, which puts individuals, families, communities and the region at an economic disadvantage.
Meanwhile, a U.S. District Judge recently ruled that Forrest City had no basis to exempt, while Blytheville has chosen to participate as a condition for accreditation.
One man, Superintendent Dr. Jerry Guess, chooses to exempt PCSSD from inter-district School Choice, even though the district has been declared unitary in regard to student assignment by U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall, Jr.
Unfortunately, the new Jacksonville/North Pulaski Special District has chosen to follow the lead of PCSSD, rather than NLRSD and LRSD, which fully participate and benefit from choice.
Whether you live in one of the districts and would choose to enroll in another, or live in another and would choose to enroll in PCSSD or JNPSD, please share with the respective superintendent and board what full participation in inter-district School Choice would mean to your student(s), family and community.
Click here, complete the fields, and submit to directly share your story with Dr. Guess, the JNPSD board, and other interested policy makers. Users are limited to one message per day.
Meanwhile, to ensure that you and your student(s) do not miss your opportunity, complete and submit the School Choice Application by May 1, 2016 to the school district(s) of your choice, including PCSSD and JNPSD, in hopes that the superintendent and/or board reverse their decisions.
Here are the nine school districts in Arkansas which inappropriately exempt from school choice, hyperlinked to their claimed conflicting federal court orders:
- Camden Fairview School District
- El Dorado School District
- Hope School District
- Pulaski County Special School District
- Junction City School District
- Lafayette County School District
- Dollarway School District
- Texarkana School District
- Jacksonville/North Pulaski School District
If you would like to launch, support a campaign(s) to convince any of the aforementioned districts to choose choice, contact Gary Newton, firstname.lastname@example.org.