The Pulaski County Special School District will be in court Friday to argue progress has been made in resolving long-running desegregation issues.
Since 2011, two of nine problem areas have been declared unitary and the district hopes to have two more ruled to be in compliance by federal Judge D. Price Marshall, Jr. Superintendent Jerry Guess said when the remaining desegregation obligations are resolved he expects the district to operate under the same conditions as the county’s other two districts.
“One of the results of a complete unitary declaration would be that the court would no longer oversee our operations. Little Rock and North Little Rock have both been declared unitary and because of the inter-district agreement that we have reached between the three districts the court is I don't believe actively engaged in monitoring Little Rock, North Little Rock. I would assume that same development would occur with us once we're declared unitary,” said Guess.
The superintendent said the hearing will address scholarships and special education. He argued the toughest remaining challenges will be resolving disparities in discipline and achievement. Guess said the district is working with Joshua intervenors, who represent black students in the district.
“They come to our schools and visit principals, teachers, students looking for evidence of successful unitary performance service on our part or they perhaps make suggestions about things we could do differently. We have a good relationship with Joshua and I respect Mr. Walker's assessment of our situation,” said Guess.
Attorney John Walker has been working for 31 years on a lawsuit compelling the district to meet desegregation requirements. Walker also serves as a representative in the state legislature.