Chad Pekron, Governor Hutchinson’s most recent appointment to the Arkansas State Board of Education, announced yesterday at the conclusion of a State Board meeting that he was resigning immediately. Pekron, a Little Rock lawyer with the Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull law firm, said a career change that will require a lot of travel would make it impossible for him to serve on the board, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. He declined to say what the new job is.
Pekron, on the board since July, was a decisive voice in the board’s handling of the Little Rock School District. He earned praise from LRSD advocates in October when he moved to kill a plan that would have divided the district, where schools that score low on standardized tests and have large majorities of black and Latino students would operate under unspecified “different leadership” and the rest of the district would return to some form of local control under a school board. But that appreciation didn’t last long, as Pekron joined a majority of the board in voting to direct Education Secretary Johnny Key to end recognition of the Little Rock Education Association teachers union.
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Pekron was also behind the motion to return the district to a locally elected school board with what he called three “guardrails.” The new nine-member board, which will be elected in November, will not be allowed to fire the superintendent, engage in litigation or recognize the LREA as exclusive bargaining agent for teachers.
The most charitable reading of Pekron’s time on the board is that he was a slight moderating influence on the likes of chairwoman Diane Zook and Sarah Moore, who have had no qualms with micromanaging the operation of the LRSD. But Pekron’s talk of being more hands off with the Little Rock district often didn’t match his actions. He voted to reconstitute Hall High School and to change the name of Pinnacle View High School.