Local & Regional News
4:08 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Federal Judge Sets Friday Hearing On Desegregation Lawsuit

Mike Beebe
File photo of Gov. Mike Beebe, speaking to reporters last month.
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

A federal judge wants lawyers for the state, three Little Rock-area school districts and interveners to return to court Friday to discuss a proposal to end a 31-year-old desegregation lawsuit.

Arkansas has spent $1 billion to help the Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special school districts achieve and maintain a racial balance.

The Little Rock and North Little Rock districts have been declared desegregated and Pulaski County's partially so.

Parties went before the judge Tuesday to say they had an agreement to end $70 million in annual payments in 2018.

Judge Price Marshall told them to file the agreement as a court motion and return for a Friday morning hearing. Without an agreement, the parties will be in court Dec. 9 on the state's request to end the payments.

Meanwhile Gov. Mike Beebe is praising the state attorney general's office for "diligently working" to reach an agreement with districts.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Beebe said Tuesday that it's time for the state to stop giving extra money to the Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special school districts for their integration efforts.

Beebe said the end of the payments will lead to a decrease in the state's sales tax on groceries, with money returning to taxpayers.