LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The new sweeping education law in Arkansas known as the LEARNS Act is now facing a lawsuit.
Ali Noland is the attorney representing a few groups of people with concerns about the emergency clause that was passed with the bill. Noland told KARK 4 News the emergency clause’s passage was unconstitutional.
Noland said her first group of clients is based out of the Marvell-Elaine School District. She said they have a significant interest in preventing the state from prematurely applying LEARNS to allow a charter school to take over the district.
“My clients are very happy that the school was not consolidated,” Noland said. “That does not mean that they are in favor of rushing into a contract with a charter provider.”
The other group of people Noland is representing is the Citizens for Arkansas Public Education and Students (CAPES).
CAPES is looking to repeal the LEARNS Act through a referendum, which means if the petition gets approved and receives enough signatures, the law would be up to voters in November.
Noland said the concern is the law taking effect before voters can decide for themselves if the first few steps for the referendum were to happen.
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to the lawsuit in a separate press conference Tuesday, calling the lawsuit “absurd.”
“It has 0 merit,” Sanders said. “I am very confident that the attorney general will be able to fight back. The sad thing is this is a political game that people are playing with children’s futures.”
The governor said her focus is making sure every kid in the state has access to a quality education and making sure teachers are rewarded for their hard work.
“We want to see those things happen immediately, and we are confident that will be the case,” she said.
Alexa Henning, a spokesperson for Sanders, also released a statement on the lawsuit on Monday.
This lawsuit has no merit. Chamber procedure for this session did not deviate from the process that has been followed by the House and Senate for decades. Democrats and liberal activists in this state are playing politics with kids’ futures while trying to protect the failed status quo. With the Legislature’s passage and Governor Sanders’ signature, LEARNS became the law in Arkansas. The Governor is confident in the process that was followed as well as the transformational, bold change it will bring to kids, educators and parents.”Sanders spokesperson Alexa Henning