The ripple effect from last week’s federal court desegregation ruling will continue to be felt for sometime, attorneys who have followed the case for years said. There were some positive and some negative implications for those who’d like to see Maumelle with its own school district.
Former Pulaski County Special School District superintendent and current executive director of Academic Plus Charter School Rob McGill said while Sherwood and Maumelle were left out of the special status given Jacksonville there are two very positive aspects of the judges rulings.
The county wide district must be declared unitary, or prove it doesn’t discriminate against minorities as it was found to do in the past, before an area can begin the legal process to separate and create its own district.
Two of the most important sticking points that PCSSD has been unable to meet in the past were taken away when the judge ruled the district unitary in those areas, McGill said.
1. The courts ruled the district unitary in their gifted and talent programs and in advanced student placement.
2. Students assignments was the second area declared unitary.
Knocking those two out of the way still leaves about nine areas of concern to go but the original number has been cut at least in half and the only way to tackle them is one at a time, attorneys say.
Maumelle alderman Preston Lewis who has led the effort at least lately to push for Maumelle’s own school district said, "I think the settlement is a positive move forward for Arkansas to finish another chapter in this issue. I see the provision that prohibits new districts from forming in Pulaski County as a yield sign. PCSSD should have additional time to gain unitary status.
This shouldn’t discourage an effort to form a Maumelle School District. In fact, now that the financial aspects are on ‘final approach’ this makes a
Maumelle School District even more attainable. The next hurdle is the 2015 legislative session and laws dealing with school district formation."
Some of the old timers in Maumelle even suggest that one day a Maumelle School District could incorporate both the PCSSD’s three schools and Academics Plus into one organization.
However, many of those who helped establish A Plus as the state’s first charter school point out, "We’ve already got our district in Maumelle."
Only time will tell and the players and the ground rules are all subject to change.