Court look urged on School Choice

The Hope and Camden Fairview school districts are asking the full 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at St. Louis to review an Aug. 25 decision made by an 8th Circuit panel in lawsuits challenging the Arkansas School Choice Act.

The two districts and the original plaintiffs in long-standing school desegregation cases -- represented by Whitney Moore and Shawn Childs, argue that the three-judge panel's 2-1 decision is in conflict with previous rulings of the 8th Circuit Court and the U.S. Supreme Court.

The three-judge panel decision in August reversed the panel's own earlier 2-1 decision that upheld a lower court's rulings excusing the districts from participating in interdistrict student transfers.

The panel had initially upheld the decisions of U.S. District Judge Susan O. Hickey, who altered the districts' decades-old desegregation plans to exempt the districts from the interdistrict transfers. The school district had argued that the interdistrict transfers would result in the loss of white students to their districts and promote racial segregation.

"Indeed, the fact that the panel has issued two 2-1 opinions clearly shows that the issues involved in this appeal present a close enough question that en banc review is appropriate," the attorneys wrote.

Junction City and Lafayette County school districts were among the plaintiffs in the initial lawsuits against the state but have elected not to pursue a re-hearing before the entire 8th Circuit Court