Arkansas AG Requests Expedited Appeal of LEARNS Act Ruling

A provision of the LEARNS Act allows a struggling school district to partner with a third-party organization in lieu of a state takeover.

Arkansas Supreme Court

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Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin on Wednesday filed a motion to expedite his appeal of a circuit court ruling that delays the effective date of the LEARNS Act, the governor’s signature education legislation. Griffin asked that the state Supreme Court respond by 8 a.m. Friday.

Griffin filed an appeal on July 3 of an order invalidating the law’s emergency clause, which would allow it go into effect immediately instead of 91 days after the end of the legislative session.

Pulaski County Judge Herbert Wright last month ruled the law’s emergency clause is invalid because it was not passed with a separate roll-call vote garnering a two-thirds majority, as required by the Arkansas Constitution.

Barring the Arkansas Supreme Court overturning the ruling, the LEARNS Act will not go into effect until Aug. 1.

The lawsuit has delayed the pursuit of a “transformation contract” between the Marvell-Elaine School District and Friendship Education Foundation, a charter school management organization. A provision of the LEARNS Act, a “transformation contract” allows a struggling school district to partner with a third-party organization in lieu of a state takeover.

The state took control of Marvell-Elaine during a special meeting of the State Board of Education last Friday. Education Secretary Jacob Oliva said the action was necessary so preparations for the upcoming school year, including hiring teachers and setting an academic calendar, can resume.

Officials plan to continue pursuing a “transformation contract” with Friendship Education Foundation after the law goes into effect on Aug. 1, Oliva said.

Arkansas Advocate is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arkansas Advocate maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sonny Albarado for questions: info@arkansasadvocate.com. Follow Arkansas Advocate on Facebook and Twitter.

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