LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP/KTHV) - A federal judge has struck down an Arkansas law that requires race to be considered when students want to transfer to a different school district.
In a ruling issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert Dawson said the state's Public School Choice Act of 1989 is unconstitutional.
Dawson said a provision about race in the law violated part of the Constitution. The judge said that provision can't be severed from the law, so he declared the whole thing unconstitutional.
Dawson's ruling comes in a lawsuit filed by a group of Malvern parents who said they should be given the option of putting their children in the schools of their choice.
The state had argued that the law is necessary to preserve desegregation efforts.
Arkansas Education commissioner Dr. Terry Kimbrell says, "This morning, a federal district court judge ruled that the Arkansas Public School Choice Act is unconstitutional in its entirety. That statute is one of a few statutes in Arkansas which allows students to attend school at a school district other than the school district in which the student resides. I have asked my staff to review all the effects of this ruling on our students, parents and school districts, including on those students who were granted school choice approval under the Arkansas Public Choice Act prior to today's ruling. My staff will also be in consultation with the Arkansas Attorney General's Office to determine what future legal steps, if any, the Arkansas Department of Education will take regarding this matter."
According to Allen Roberts, an attorney who represents the Camden Fairview and El Dorado School Districts, they're in a situation similar to Malvern's.
Roberts says the deadline to make new applications for School Choice next year, is July 1 and he's doubting that any new waivers will be granted.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel responds to the decision saying, "We are currently reviewing this decision and its impact on the families that would be affected by it. We will be in discussions with the Department of Education about what our next steps should be."
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