Late last night came a filing in federal court that says the state of Arkansas, the Little Rock and Pulaski County school districts and the so-called Joshua intervenors, the representatives of black families led by state Rep. John Walker are amenable to
Lots more to come, of course.
The filing came in the so-
The groundbreaking suggestion came in a motion to delay next week’s trial before Judge Price Marshall. It is supported by Education Commissioner Johnny Key, acting as the Little Rock School Board during the state trusteeship that began two years ago. It is joined by Superintendent Michael Poore and the Doe plaintiffs. The meat of the request:
This motion is based in part on developments that impact both this case and the related case of LRSD v. PCSSD, No. 82-866. PCSSD and the Joshua Intervenors are open to immediate and intensive discussions to resolve all remaining unitary status issues, with the goal of doing so within sixty (60) days.
When PCSSD is declared unitary, LRSD, PCSSD, the Arkansas Department of Education, the Joshua Intervenors and the Doe Plaintiffs are open to discussions concerning boundary changes among the Pulaski County School Districts which would likely have a substantial impact on LRSD.
Counsel for PCSSD and counsel for Joshua have agreed that these discussions preliminary to a declaration of unitary status for PCSSD will not constitute a violation of any provision of the Settlement Agreement dated November 18, 2013, and approved by this Court on January 13, 2014 in case number 4:82-cv-866-DPM
Poore, Key and the Doe Plaintiffs believe that most, if not all, of the remaining issues in this case can be resolved in the context of the broader discussions concerning the future contours and governance of the school districts in Pulaski County.
WHEREFORE, for the reasons set forth above, the parties jointly request a continuance of the trial of this case of at least ninety (90) days in order to engage in the efforts described in this motion to resolve outstanding education issues affecting students throughout Pulaski County.
Creation of a new school district would presumably be a way out of state control of the Little Rock School District, a hotly controversial issue that was engendered when the Little Rock business community became unhappy about the black majority school board. The state took over the district on a narrow split state Board of Education vote because of low scores of six of 48 schools. Three schools remain below the state proficiency standard and, to date, the state Board has refused to consider giving autonomy back to the district.
The Pulaski district’s willingness to participate is clear from the motion. Its attorneys signed the motion for continuance.
UPDATE: Johnny Key distributed a copy of the motion to the state Board of Education during a regularly scheduled meeting this
ALSO: The state Board of Education has already studied district realignment here in anticipation of a future need. It recommended the two district solution, with some small changes such as moving that part of Shanon Hills in Saline County from the Pulaski to the Bryant School District and making the North Little Rock School District boundaries coterminous with the city. It also mentioned the possibility of Sherwood and Maumeel districts. The Board unanimously adopted the report, with some added comments of concern from then-Board member Sam Ledbetter.
UPDATE: Friday afternoon, Judge Marshall granted the motion to delay the trial. He rescheduled it for 1:30 p.m. Sept. 11 and commented: “The parties, therefore, must sprint in their discussions. If those discussions produce results, the parties should file notice immediately and the Court will consider any proposed settlement at the status conference scheduled for 6 September 2017… “