THE PAST ISN'T EVEN PAST: The state is making it impossible to claim segregation as a reason to object to school district transfers.

The state Board of Education will meet July 12 and the agenda includes still further tightening of school transfer rules to make it extremely difficult to claim resegregation as a ground for a district’s refusal to participate. And that’s not all. If there is a segregative effect, the state doesn’t want to know about it.

Here’s the markup of the newly proposed rule for school districts to follow on interdistrict transfers. The transfers are virtually without bar now, except for capacity reasons.


The old rule said districts could opt out from transfers if they conflicted “with a provision of an enforceable desegregation court order or a district’s court-approved desegregation plan.  regarding the effects of past racial segregation in student assignment, either of which explicitly limits the transfer of students between school districts.

My marking shows what words are eliminated in the old rule and, in boldface, significant new language. This is trickery. See, back when courts were ordering school districts to desegregate there WERE NO INTERDISTRICT TRANSFERS so there was no need for an explicit limitation. A handful of districts that have been hit hard by transfers for racial reasons have gone back to court to correct that. I wrote here about Hope, Camden Fairview and Lafayette County. The Walton-financed school choice crowd, which includes Education Commissioner Johnny Key, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and most of the state Board, prefers a world where residency has no relationship to school attendance, particularly if it hinders likes from clustering with likes in preferred settings. A better option is the egalitarian school model, improved for all, and were the poorer kids aren’t segregated from the proven benefits of exposure to the luckier born.


But this is a particularly invidious part of the new rule. If there IS to be increased racial and economic segregation thanks to unfettered school transfers, the state officially doesn’t want to know about it. Look what the rule proposes to ELIMINATE FROM CURRENT RULES:

The Department of Education shall collect data from school districts on the number of applications for student transfers under Section 8.00 of these rules and study the effects of school choice transfers under Arkansas Code, Title 6, Chapter 18, Subchapter 19 and these rules, including without limitation the net maximum number of transfers and exemptions, on both resident and nonresident districts for up to two (2) years to determine if a racially segregative impact has occurred to any school district.

8.03 Annually by October 1, the Department of Education shall report its findings from the study of the data under Section 8.02 of these rules to the Senate Committee on Education and the House Committee on Education

In short, as I’ve written before: State-sanctioned segregation, under the 1960s segregationist euphemism of “freedom of choice” is now both law and rule in Arkansas. Orval Faubus didn’t live long enough.


These rule changes were mandated by 2017 legislative law changes.