Federal Judge Susan Hickey has denied a request by the state Education Department and state board of Education to stay her ruling that allows the Hope, Lafayette County, Junction City and Camden Fairview School Districts to claim exemption from the state law that allows interdistrict student transfers.

The districts have claimed exemption on account of being under federal court desegregation decrees. The state argued they couldn’t claim the exemption because the court decrees didn’t specifically bar interdistrict transfers. The decrees were entered, however, at a time when such transfers weren’t permitted. The law has evolved to allow almost unlimited transfers, except for a handful of districts with specific court exemptions. The four districts asked for modifications of past orders, which Hickey granted, to specifically allow them to opt out, too. They’ve cited statistics that transfers have overwhelmingly meant the departure of white students for districts with larger white enrollments.


Hickey said the state hadn’t demonstrated the likelihood of success on appeal, irreparable harm to the state or students or a compelling public interest, plus she said a stay would the four districts.

She issued four separate rulings with similar findings.


Here’s the order on the Hope district.

This exempts the districts from the transfer law while a state appeal of her finding continues. This would prevent transfers in the next school year, unless the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals is asked, and decides, to grant the state’s delaying motion.


The attorney general’s office responded:

In February, the Attorney General filed an appeal with the Eighth Circuit following the trial court’s decision to limit parents’ right to choose the best educational opportunities for their children.

The trial judge, by the way, addressed this point specifically, saying that parents indeed had options — moving to another district, private schools and home schooling