by Max Brantley
Little Rock School District attorney Chris Heller's report to the Little Rock School Board on today's talks with the attorney general's office on ending the Pulaski deseg case indicates a negotiated deal is unlikely. He says there's an impasse and the federal court is likely going to have to figure it out.
If he's right -- that the state simply won't give on issues like continued creation of majority white, majority privileged class charter schools in Pulaski County -- then it's probably best that an independent arbiter look at it.
UPDATED with Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's statement.
CHRIS HELLER MEMO
board members and dr watson - we met today with the attorney general, nlrsd and pcssd to discuss settlement issues. john walker is in trial and had to miss the meeting. it appears that we have reached an impasse. we discussed the lrsd settlement proposal, but the state does not intend to formally respond to it. the state is primarily interested in three things: finality (i.e. no long term agreement that might be subject to a later dispute); unitary status for nlrsd and pcssd; and a limited financial commitment in exchange for those things (probably not more than is authorized in act 395). it seems clear that we will be unable to reach any agreement for the support of magnet schools, for transportation for disadvantaged students, for a continuing commitment to remediate achievement disparities, or to place any restrictions on open enrollment charter schools. there was no posturing or acrimony
Statement from Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel:
The Little Rock School District was unable to accept the settlement proposal conveyed by the state last August. We thoroughly evaluated the district’s offer, which the state simply cannot accept.
I will continue to seek a resolution that implements a phase-out of desegregation money, specifies a dollar amount, addresses the unitary status of the Pulaski County school districts and ends this case once and for all. Such a resolution would be in the best interests of the State and the children in the districts.
Perhaps new ideas can be considered. Otherwise, it will be necessary to let the court weigh in on the remaining issues.