by Max Brantley
The Arkansas Supreme Court today turned back the effort to prevent closure of the isolated Fourche Valley School. School patrons had argued that lengthy bus rides should have prevented the decision by the Twin Rivers School District.
The court said the state Board of Education had properly met standards set out in law for closing the schools -- that it would be in the best interest of all students in the district and it wouldn't have a negative impact on desegregation issues or violate court orders.
The court stuck to procedural grounds -- that the state Board had acted under terms of the law. The question of whether a constitutional education could be impaired by excessive bus transportation was not reached in the decision. The court noted that the legislature is studying busing issues. But the opinion said the question of whether the state was failing in its constitutional duty on account of busing "is simply not before us." This would seem to leave open an avenue to pursue that issue.