Will Arkansas' State Supreme Court Take Over Public Education

December 31, 2003 — Posted at 6:30 p.m.

JONESBORO —The countdown for the classroom is now over.

Today is the day that Arkansas legislators were supposed to have a solution for the State Supreme Court, instead both chambers passed a bill that makes temporary funding fixes for public education; it was a move seen as a way to appease the higher court and avoid more lawsuits.

Valley View Superintendent Radius Baker wants to see legislators do the do-right bill.

"Let's do what's right for the education in Arkansas and then let the suits come," said Baker

Don Mixon is the attorney for the Jonesboro public school district. He's been following this case closely. In fact, when Lake View filed their lawsuit against the state, Jonesboro had the option of hopping on board as well, but they declined.

Mixon says the State Supreme Court can take over public education.

"We don't have much precedent for what will happen after that," said Mixon

However, Mixon says that we can look at federal court cases, particularly dealing with desegregation, for legal perspective as to what the court might do, if it were running a school district.

"The difference here is that we have 300 school districts and that's something I don't know we have the answers for at this time," said Mixon.

Now say the State Supreme Court is satisfied with the action in the legislature, the possibility still exists that more lawsuits will be filed against the state. For example, the lawyer for the Lake View school district has not ruled out going back to court.

"I think it will go back to court, irrespective of what the legislature does. It will probably go back to court from both the Lake View standpoint, and there were other districts such as Rogers that also attacked the formula who I would expect also to go to court," said Mixon.

The earliest possible time a lawsuit could be filed against the state would be on Friday. New Year's day is a holiday.