This essay discusses the major judicial benchmarks affecting the Little Rock School District since Brown v. Board of Education, andl additionally touches on attitudinal stumbling blocks between the races where problems continue to arise and where suspicions run deep.
After some forty years of litigation the Little Rock School District has been declared unitary in all respects by the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. There are judicial benchmarks since Brown and three cases bear mentioning. The initial focus of the essay is on the unitary-status decisions handed down by the Federal District Court, and specifically by Judge Bill Wilson, in 2002, in 2004, and on February 23, 2007, in Clark v. Board of Education of Little Rock School District, also known as the "Clark Cases." If this final decision stands, it will terminate federal court supervision over the Little Rock public schools, which dates back to 1966.
The second case that bears mentioning is known as the Lake View case and the consequences of the case. In the Lake View case, the Arkansas Supreme Court held that the system for funding public education violated the Arkansas Constitution’s equal protection clauses and its requirement that education be public, suitable, and efficient. However, in the third case, almost as a counterbalance to the School District's unitary status and the Lake View rulings, the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision involving the Seattle and Louisville School Districts that could have far-reaching consequences. In the Seattle case, the Court, in a five-four plurality decision, struck down a student assignment plan that provided preferences based on race for school slots in oversubscribed high schools.
Honorable Robert L. Brown,
The Little Rock School District's Quest for Unitary Status,
30 U. Ark. Little Rock L. Rev. 267
Available at: http://lawrepository.ualr.edu/lawreview/vol30/iss2/6