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State plan would return local control to Little Rock School District

The Arkansas State Board of Education announced a new framework for the Little Rock School District.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The State Board for the Arkansas Department of Education announced a new framework for the Little Rock School District.

The plan would keep the state-controlled district under a monitoring program, but would call for an election of a new nine-member local school board. 

"They say they are giving it back to us, but we are still going to hold our hand over y'all," said mother of a LRSD student Valencia White, who left the meeting in tears.

The State Board of Education plans to establish three categories of schools.

The final category, dealing with failing schools, would allow those to operate under "different leadership," which is something LRSD Superintendent Mike Poore is not pleased with.

"It looks like it's going to be separated as different schools that we don't have support in necessarily, especially on the instructional side," said Poore.

The state has been in charge of the district since 2015 with a handful of schools in academic distress.

But, the law only allows a state takeover for five years. The plan would kick in if the schools remain in academic distress when test results are announced some time next month.

People attending the meeting were met with a surprise frustration as the board made a motion to dissolve the teachers union without any notice. Since teachers themselves were in the classroom, many parents were pleaded with the board to not pass it.

"Just doing away with teachers having any say-so, they don't have a union to work to somebody to speak for them," said White.

The board ultimately tabled that motion, planning to bring it up again in October.

Gov. Hutchinson issued a statement Friday:

“I applaud the State Board of Education for providing a framework for the election of a Little Rock School Board. This is an important step in the return to local control with continued support from the state. The Board has been attentive to the public meetings on the future of the LRSD and has set forth a framework that puts the children first and gives our students the best opportunity for success in the future." 

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This story has been edited to include details of what occurred at the meeting.

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