According to the Arkansas News, a bill has been introduced in the Arkansas legislature to replace the state’s public school choice law that placed racial restrictions on where students could attend school. The law, known as the Arkansas School Choice Act, was struck down by a federal district court after a group of parents challenged the anti-segregation provision.
Senate Bill 114 (SB 114), sponsored by state Senator Joyce Elliott, would rewrite the Arkansas Public School Choice Act of 1989 (PSCA) with a set of guidelines for school districts and school boards to use when considering a student’s request to transfer between districts. Under SB 114, a school district could seek an exemption from the school choice law if officials believed transfers could lead to segregation. Last week, state Senator Johnny Key filed Senate Bill 65, which would remove race as a factor in deciding whether students can transfer between districts.
In June 2012, the district court ruled that a raced-based provision in the 1989 PSCA violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees equal protection under the law. The state argued that the race-based provision in the state statute was needed to preserve desegregation efforts.
Source: Arkansas News, 1/23/13, By Rob Moritz
[Editor's Note: In June 2012, Legal Clips summarized the federal district court's decision in Teague v. Arkansas Bd. of Educ., which held that a provision in the PSCA that limits a student’s statutory right to transfer from one public school district to another in the state based on the race of that transfer student violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment. Because severing that provision from the PSCA would have undermined the intent of the Arkansas state legislature, the court struck down the PSCA in its entirety.]