Jennifer Barnett Reed reports:
Four days after issuing a temporary restraining order that kept tiny Paron High School open, Judge Jay Moody ruled today on the heart of Paron's complaint -- that the state Board of Education didn't give them due process under the state Administrative Procedures Act. Ron Crawford, grandfather of a Paron student and leader of the effort to save the school, said Moody ruled this afternoon that the board did satisfy the requirements of the APA when they voted to allow the Bryant School District to close Paron High, and removed the temporary restraining order. That means Bryant can close the school as planned.
It also means an end to the chaos that reigned for a second day today at Paron, where Bryant district officials turned away dozens of students who had transferred to other districts before Moody's initial order to keep the school open.
Crawford said he'll be issuing a statement shortly.
But it seems apparent to me that there will be no high school in Paron this year. Many students had made plans to attend other schools until Fox's ruling Friday threw the situation into mass confusion. Where this leaves his finding that a long bus ride can override other legal requirements to provide an adequate education is anybody's guess. Since it lacked any solid precedent and seemed unlikely to find favor with the state Supreme Court, perhaps the less said the better.
UPDATE: A$a has a statement on the jump. He's demagoguing, of course. He thinks we should preserve a 100-student high school, which operates at a cost 50 percent higher than neighbors nearby with a much smaller selection of courses, if that's the wishes of the white-flighters and others who refuse nearby larger, better high schools for their children. That's powerful politicking with a small sector of the population. But it's a very small sector. If Beebe gets the vote of everyone else who thinks your average high school functions best with, oh, 300 to 400 students, he will win.
ASA HUTCHINSON STATEMENT:
Statement from Asa Hutchinson On Judge Moody's Order On Paron High School
Asa Hutchinson, the 2006 Republican candidate for Governor, issued the following statement in response to the news that a Judge Jay Moody had reversed his own order to keep Paron High School open for the 2006-07 school year:
"Judge Moody's decision today is disappointing for the children and parents of Paron, as well as for the rest of us who have been fighting to protect local schools. The families in Paron have been steadfast in standing up for their school and their community, but they have met resistance every step of the way. I am most concerned for the children of Paron, who I believe are victims of excessive bureaucracy.
"Earlier this year the Legislature had a chance to reign in inflexible bureaucracy and restore some common sense in our school system by passing the Rural Schools Support Act. That bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the House but was killed in the Senate. As Governor, I'll make it a priority to craft a bipartisan solution that will apply common standards with common sense."