On June 8, 2012, a federal district court judge ruled that the Arkansas Public School Choice Act, codified at Ark. Code Ann. § 6-18-206, is unconstitutional. Parties to the case have filed motions for stay and notices of appeal. However, unless a stay is granted or unless an appellate court reverses the district court ruling, there is no legal authority to grant school choice transfers under Ark. Code Ann. § 6-18-206.
In addition to requesting a stay of the district court’s order, the State of Arkansas requested an order from the federal district court about whether the court’s ruling should apply only to school choice transfers granted after June 8, 2012, or whether the court’s ruling should also apply to students who were granted school choice transfers before June 8, 2012. The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) will publish a Commissioner’s Memo when and if the district court offers such clarification.
In the meantime, other provisions of Arkansas law which allow student transfers across district lines remain in place and are not affected by the district court’s ruling. School districts may continue to approve transfers of students under those statutory provisions. Those provisions include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Legal Transfers Approved by Resident and Non-Resident Districts (Ark. Code Ann. §§ 6-18-316 through 6-18-318);
- School Choice Under the Provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB);
- Children of School Employees (Ark. Code Ann. § 6-18-203); and
- Opportunity School Choice (Ark. Code Ann. § 6-18-227)
The ADE is mindful of the uncertainty that follows in the wake of the June 8, 2012 ruling. The ADE and the Attorney General’s Office will continue to seek further clarification of the June 8, 2012 court order and will keep school officials informed concerning the status of the case.