This is a public announcement. With some limitations, the Public School Choice law in Arkansas allows students to attend a public school in a district other than the one in which they reside. Applications for students in the following counties: Clark, Grant, Hot Spring, Pike, and Saline, (must be made by May 1, 2019, to qualify for provisions under the Arkansas Public School Choice Act of 2015.)
Pursuant to standards adopted by a non-resident school board, a non-resident district may reserve the right to accept and reject applicants based on capacity of programs, class, grade level, or school building. School districts are not required to add teachers, staff, or classrooms in order to accommodate school choice transfers. School districts may deny school choice transfers based upon a lack of capacity if the school district has reached at least ninety percent (90%) of the maximum authorized student population in a program, class, grade level, or school building.
However, a non-resident district’s standards shall not include an applicant’s academic achievement, athletic or other extra-curricular ability, English proficiency level, or previous disciplinary proceedings, except that an expulsion from another district may be included as a reason for rejection of the application pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 6-18-510. School districts receiving school choice transfers will not discriminate on the basis of gender, national origin, race, ethnicity, religion, or disability.
Priority will be given to applicants with siblings or step siblings who reside in the same household and who are already enrolled in the non-resident district by school choice. The non-resident district shall accept credits toward graduation that were awarded by another district and award a diploma to a non-resident student if the student meets the non-resident district’s graduation requirements. Applications must be postmarked or delivered to the non-resident district no later than May 1 for a child to be able to enroll for the fall semester. By July 1, 2019, the superintendent of the non-resident district will notify the parent and the resident district in writing as to whether the student’s application has been accepted or rejected. Students who have been accepted and enrolled in previous years, and who are still in attendance in the non-resident district, do not have to apply again as approved transfers remain valid for as long as the student attends that public school.
SCHOOL CHOICE INFORMATION FOR GARLAND COUNTY SCHOOLS
The Garland County School Districts are proud to participate in the Arkansas School Choice Transfer Program for the 2019 - 2020 School Year. However, the School Choice Program in Garland County is quite different than the majority of the rest of Arkansas. While most of the state is operating under the Arkansas School Choice Law of 2013, in Garland County, our schools are legally required to operate under the old law. While the Arkansas School Choice Law of 1989 has been declared unconstitutional, we are required by federal court to still operate under that law due to a Federal Desegregation Agreement. Therefore, the following information is relevant only to the schools in Garland County.
School Choice in Garland County is still impacted by the race of the student enrollment in both the home school district and the non-resident school district. The Arkansas Department of Education provides district racial data and a very complicated formula that we are required to follow in both acceptance and rejecting School Choice Transfers. Garland County School Districts began accepting School Choice Applications on April 1, 2016. FOR GARLAND COUNTY ONLY, THE SCHOOL CHOICE DEADLINE IS JULY 1, 2017. NO APPLICATIONS CAN BE ACCEPTED AFTER THAT DATE! Once the applications and the state data and formula are received, we will begin processing those applications.
Referenced: Arkansas Dept. of Education Public School Choice Act of 2015
Act 1066 of 2017 amended Ark. Code Ann. § 6-18-1901 et seq. The act went into effect on August 1, 2017, and outlines the procedures for any school district claiming a conflict with the law. For more information, please go to Commissioner's Memo RT-18-017.
Based on the proof provided, the Arkansas Department of Education has issued written exemptions to the following school districts from participation in transfers under the School Choice Act for the 2018-2019 school year. Click on the name of the school district to review the documentation provided by each school district:
- Camden Fairview School District (exempt only for transfers to the Harmony Grove School District)
- Cutter Morning Star Public Schools
- El Dorado School District
- Hot Springs School District
- Jacksonville North Pulaski School District
- Lake Hamilton School District
- Mountain Pine School District
Act 754 of 2019 went into effect on July 24, 2019. Under Act 754, the school choice option under the Opportunity School Choice Act now is available to students attending a public school district in need of Level 5—intensive support under AESAA (Ark. Code Ann. §§ 6-15-2913 and 2915) or a public school with a rating of “F” under the public school rating system on annual school performance reports (Ark. Code Ann. § 6-15-2105 and 2106).
Schools with an “F” rating and districts classified as Level 5—in need of intensive support must accept and consider Opportunity School Choice applications through July 30, 2019. Districts also must review applications received on or before May 1, 2019, under the Public School Choice Act to determine whether a student denied a transfer under the Public School Choice Act would have been granted the transfer under Act 754/Opportunity School Choice. If the district determines the denied transfer would have been granted under Act 754/Opportunity School Choice, the district must contact the parent, guardian, or eligible student to notify them of the availability of a transfer under Opportunity School Choice, subject to any limitations that may be asserted by the nonresident school or district.
The new May 1 deadline for Opportunity School Choice applications established by Act 754 will apply beginning in 2020 for the 2020-2021 school year.