School choice suit dismissed | Arkansas Blog

School choice suit dismissed



Big decision in federal court today, perhaps to be appealed, in the lawsuit in which plaintiffs attempted to strike down the Arkansas school choice law for allowing race to be considered in attempts to transfer into or out of school districts.

The suit aiming to allow white students to leave Malvern for neighboring districts was dismissed. Federal Judge Robert Dawson ruled on various motions for summary judgment that the Malvern School District and state Board of Education weren't proper defendants. Our news on this comes from a helpful Haley Heath, editor of the Arkansas Law Review, who comments:

Malvern School District was an improper defendant because it was only seeking to enforce residency requirements by keeping its residential students in the districts.  It looks like the right defendant will be a district that denies an attempt to transfer into it based on the school choice statute, rather than a district that attempts to prohibit a transfer out of it based on the statute.

The court said sovereign immunity barred the claim against the State Board of Education. (It has little practical power over enforcement of the school choice law.)

Read the decision for yourself.

Here's the judgment, which didn't grant summary judgment motions in every case on procedural and other grounds.

For the time being, wholesale white flight from Arkansas school districts can't be achieved by constitutional challenge to the school choice law. It's a challenge made possible, it's worth remembering, by the right-wing dominated U.S. Supreme Court.


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