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Arkansas Supreme Court denies state's request regarding LEARNS Act

The state's highest court denied a motion to stay the temporary restraining order on the LEARNS law, but has asked for briefs next week.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — On Friday, the Arkansas Supreme Court denied Attorney General Tim Griffin's request to allow the LEARNS Act to continue, asking for expedited briefs in the upcoming hearing.

The decision comes after a Pulaski County judge issued a temporary restraining order on May 26 for a lawsuit that challenges the nature in which the LEARNS Act was passed through the legislature.

"The Plaintiffs are heartened that the Supreme Court has rejected the state's bad-faith argument that the legislature should be free to violate the Arkansas Constitution," said Ali Noland, the attorney who filed the lawsuit. "We look forward to briefing the additional legal issues requested by the court, and we are grateful that the Arkansas judiciary is still strongly committed to upholding the rule of law."

According to the Pulaski County Circuit Court, lawmakers didn't hold a separate vote on the emergency clause, which would make it take effect immediately.

Because of the order, schools were encouraged not to take action based on the LEARNS Act until it becomes law in the first week of August. 

Gov. Sanders released a statement refuting the legitimacy of the lawsuit, calling it "absurd."

"This lawsuit is absurd," Sanders said. "By playing political games with our kids' futures, the radical left is halting teacher pay raises, school safety trainings, literacy coach hiring, and our new maternity leave program — sowing unnecessary turmoil in schools. I thank the attorney general for continuing to defend the LEARNS Act and look forward to the Supreme Court deciding this case next week."

Griffin filed a motion on May 30 asking the state Supreme Court to allow the LEARNS Act to continue. He claimed that the recent ruling by the judge could cause chaos and irreparable harm.

"There's no reason to put the state's educational system and the plans for the schools around the state on hold," Griffin said.

The state Supreme Court granted Griffin's motion for expedited consideration and Marvell-Elaine School District's request for an expedited briefing on Friday.

The Marvell-Elaine School District, the main defendant in the lawsuit, is restricted from paying the charter school management company chosen to run the district. 

Furthermore, the school district's decision to refuse to renew certain teachers' contracts is also not allowed until trial on June 20.

Both parties must file their initial briefs by 9 a.m. on June 6, and each party must file a reply to the other's brief by 9 a.m. on June 7.

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