The Public Education Reorganization Act

Main Provisions of  “The Public Education Reorganization Act”


·         No schools are closed solely due to reorganization


·         Three classes of school districts – Unified, Regional, and Special

o        All serve students in Kindergarten through Grade 12


·         Districts with 1500 or more students automatically qualify for Unified status, with administrative and governance units intact 


·         Districts with fewer than 1500 students have until January 1, 2004 to consolidate into a 1500 or more student district or be assigned to a Regional District or consolidated with a Unified District, with one exception

o        Any district so assigned has until March 1, 2004 to request Special District status

§         Prove to the State Board of Education that it can meet new standards of curriculum, accreditation, efficiency, facility, and teacher salaries by July 1, 2004

§         Any Special District has the same privileges as a Unified District


·         State Board of Education will set final school district boundaries by May 1, 2004


·         Any high school in any district can continue to operate after July 1, 2004 if it can meet new standards of curriculum, accreditation, efficiency, facility, and teacher salaries

o        School can meet standards by partnering with other high schools or post-secondary institutions or by utilizing distance learning 

o        School can also remain open if it can prove to the State Board of Education that it would be unduly cost-prohibitive to transport students to another high school because of geographical terrain (isolated school)


·         After reorganization, only the State Board of Education can close schools and then only because of poor performance or failure to meet standards of curriculum, accreditation, efficiency, facility, and teacher salaries


·         Each school shall have a Parent Advisory Council


·         School boards retain same powers as under current law, including ability to hire and fire superintendent and other personnel

o        State Education Director can recommend revocation, suspension or probation of the license of any superintendent, or can recommend removal from office any school board member, who acts in any way to jeopardize the fiscal or academic integrity of a school or school district

§         Specific violations will be defined in State Board of Education rules and regulations

§         Individual has 15 days to appeal to the State Board of Education, which must act within 60 days

§         Revoked or suspended license automatically voids superintendent’s contract

§         Local school board has option to void contract of superintendent if license put on probation

§         Board member removed


·         School board members must undergo extensive, annual training in the academic and fiscal requirements of its schools and students

o        Failure to meet requirements could lead to removal of board member


·         Education Service Cooperatives are eliminated and replaced with Education Service Centers, which will be part of the Department of Education

o        Employees of these centers will be Department of Education employees

o        An advisory committee to each center will consist of parents, teachers, and school administrators


·         Alternative Learning Environments are strengthened to make the programs more beneficial to students

o        All schools are required to provide such services


·         Public school choice law is amended

o        Every public school district in Arkansas will participate in school choice 

o        The non-resident school district has the option of transporting a student from inside the resident district to the non-resident district and back to the resident district


·         Key provisions of public school choice law remain unchanged

o        A student must file, with the non-resident district, an application for transfer by July 1

§         The non-resident district has 30 days to notify the parent or guardian and the resident district as to whether the student’s application has been accepted or rejected

§         Any student whose application is rejected by the non-resident district may appeal the rejection to the State Board of Education 

o        General rule is that no student may transfer to another school district if that student’s race is of a greater percentage in the non-resident district than in the student’s resident district unless certain exemptions to the general rule are satisfied 

§         The 2 schools are in the same county and the student’s transfer to the non-resident district will not cause either school’s minority to majority school population to fall outside the acceptable range of majority to minority variance

§         A transfer is exempt from the general rule if each district in the county does not have a critical mass of minority students of more than 10% of any single race

o        In no case may a transfer be allowed which might conflict with a desegregation court order or a district’s court-approved desegregation plan

o        Each school district must adopt by resolution specific standards for acceptance and rejection of an application for school choice.  Standards may include limitations on:

§         Capacity of a program

§         Class, grade level or school building size

§         Adding teachers

o        Standards for acceptance or rejection of an application for school choice may not include

§         Previous academic achievement

§         Athletic or other extracurricular ability

§         Handicapping conditions

§         English proficiency level

§         Previous disciplinary proceedings, except for current expulsions

o        Each district shall accept all credits toward graduation that were awarded by another district

o        The non-resident district shall award a diploma to a non-resident student if the student meets the non-resident district’s graduation requirements