Judge refuses to halt consolidations

(June 9, 2004) - (Little Rock-AP) -- A federal judge will not temporarily stop mergers involving 57 Arkansas small school districts this summer. U-S District Judge George Howard Junior said he will not order a temporary restraining order to stop the consolidations and annexations of the schools as ordered by the state. Some small school districts and their advocates filed a federal lawsuit last week, claiming that forced consolidation of dozens of small school districts violated federal equal protection, due process and voting rights laws. It also claims the restructuring discriminates against racial minorities. Plaintiffs in that federal lawsuit challenging consolidation of Arkansas schools will have to prove that the consolidation plan was created specifically to discriminate.