Lawyer Warns of School Shutdown if System Not Fixed

July 9, 2003 - Posted at: 9:25 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- A lawyer who successfully challenged the legality of Arkansas' public education system says schools could be shut down in January if the Legislature fails to meet a court deadline for education reform.

David Matthews says operating an unconstitutional schools system is not an option. The state Supreme Court has given officials until January to find a way to provide equal educational opportunities for all Arkansas students.

This week, Governor Huckabee said he saw no signs of consensus on a plan to respond to the court order, and said he may not call legislators into special session this fall as expected. He said Wednesday that some legislators are not taking the court deadline seriously.

Matthews says doing nothing is not a viable option. If January comes without serious reform, he says, the educational system will remain unconstitutional and the flow of state money could be blocked through a lawsuit.

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