Governor Hutchinson yesterday appointed Chad Pekron of Bryant to the State Board of Education.
A lawyer with Little Rock’s Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull and the father of five children, four of whom are public school students, Pekron replaces Hendrix professor and Arkansas Times contributor Jay Barth.
I’ve got a message into Pekron, who told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette he was joining the board with an open mind. But I think it’s safe to say that he’ll be a significant departure from Barth, who was appointed by Gov. Mike Beebe.
Pekron represented South Arkansas parents in a “friends of the court” brief submitted in an appeal of a lawsuit over interdistrict transfers in South Arkansas. In January, U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey sided with the Camden Fairview, Hope, Junction City and Lafayette County school districts, which argued that permitting students to transfer out of their districts would lead to white flight and resegregation. The state appealed the decision to the 8th U.S. Circuit of Appeals.
Here’s what Pekron tweeted about that:
Proud to have the opportunity to represent these parents seeking the best possible education for their children. https://t.co/eDmVgQAub9
— Chad Pekron (@chadpekron) June 3, 2019
The Democrat-Gazette reports that two of Pekron’s children attend schools in Bauxite, even though they don’t live there, thanks to a so-called “school choice” state law.
Pekron’s Twitter account includes a lot of retweeting of local Republican figures, including Tom Cotton, as well as of local Federalist Society events.
He was widely thought to be a leading candidate for the open federal judge position in Little Rock. President Trump ultimately nominated former state solicitor Lee Rudofsky to the position. He was also a member of the state Election Commission from 2013-2017 and has been a special justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court several times, including on the controversial sovereign immunity case, in which he voted with the majority in reversing years of precedent by saying that the state legislature can’t pass laws that waive sovereign immunity, or, in other words, laws that allow the state to be sued.
He was also former Secretary of State Mark Martin’s pick for outside counsel to defend him in an FOIA case brought by Matt Campbell. The judge in that case ultimately ruled that Martin couldn’t hire outside counsel.
Pekron graduated high school in South Dakota and is a graduate of the University of Nebraska and Yale Law School. He first came to Arkansas to clerk for Judge Morris Arnold of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
From his law firm bio: “He has significant experience in representing accounting firms, publicly-traded companies, and corporate officers and directors in securities litigation, regulatory matters, professional malpractice actions, and internal investigations.”