- Associated Press - Friday, December 18, 2015

BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - The superintendent of the Blytheville School District has requested a waiver from the Arkansas Department of Education that will allow the district to participate in a public school choice program.

The Blytheville Courier News (http://bit.ly/1T5Vz0s ) reports that Blytheville Superintendent Richard Atwell made the request in a Dec. 15 letter.

Atwill cited a letter from the education department’s general counsel, Kendra Clay, that it appears that the school district is no longer under active desegregation-related court order, clearing the path for school choice.

Atwill said that the school district has always wanted to participate in the program, but conflicting laws have made it impossible to do so.

The superintendent said that, “The only conflict left is about transfers. If we can get this waiver from the State Board in their January meeting, I believe that will allow us to participate in school choice legally, which is what we wanted all along but we had to follow the written laws (regarding desegregation).”

Once the waiver is issued, Atwill said that the school district’s letter and documentation supporting desegregation will have to stricken and then the district should be open for school choice transfers.

Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin issued a statement Thursday expressing his excitement over the Blytheville School District’s desire to participate in school choice.

“I recently visited with Blytheville parents and toured Blytheville public schools with Superintendent Atwill, and I believe Superintendent Atwill’s request is a step in the right direction,” Griffin said.

The 2015 School Choice Act allows students to go to schools in districts that they do not live in.

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Information from: Blytheville Courier News, http://www.couriernews.net

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