21st September 2023

The legal battle for the future of Arkansas’ education system continued on Tuesday with an emergency motion filed by Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin.

The motion asks the Arkansas Supreme Court to overturn a lower court’s ruling that the state’s new education law, the Arkansas LEARNS Act, is not legally in effect.

Last Friday, a Pulaski County circuit court judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking the implementation of Governor Sanders’ LEARNS Act, as part of a lawsuit brought by a group of parents and educators in the Marvell-Elaine School District.

The Attorney General’s office immediately filed an appeal and this afternoon, an emergency motion to overturn the restraining order.

The temporary restraining order against the Arkansas LEARNS Act only delays the education plan’s implementation until a June 20 hearing, however Attorney General Griffin says the ramifications are so grievous, they may even delay the 2023-2024 school year.

“What will effectively happen, is our education system will grind to a halt. It will put our education system–our schools, in particular our students, in limbo,” Griffin said, “so, maternity leave for teachers will be frozen or canceled for now. Pay raises for teachers, canceled for now.”

Griffin says the restraining order will cause irreparable damage to the Marvell-Elaine School District and others around the state.

“It’s this time of year when schools are preparing, teachers are preparing, for next year. This is a critical time. We’ve asked the court to stay the order from last week so that our educational system, particularly our schools and teachers, can continue their work so they’ll be ready in the fall to get back to teaching and educating our kids,” he said.

“It’s unfortunate that some people want to prioritize political interests over progress, stalling access to new opportunities provided by the LEARNS Act for families all across Arkansas,” said Emmy Henley, managing director of The Reform Alliance, an Arkansas nonprofit dedicated to educational reform.

“We believe the Supreme Court will recognize the lack of merit in this challenge and will act accordingly, and we look forward to helping families understand their options for next school year,” Henley said.

It is now up to the Arkansas Supreme Court whether the restraining order against the LEARNS Act will be upheld.