Another lawsuit threatened in school debate

(February 12, 2004) — (Little Rock-AP) -- Officials in the Camden Fairview School District are worried legislative school reforms could interfere with a 30-year-old order to integrate schools. An attorney says he expects to file a federal lawsuit soon in response to fears school consolidation will lead to segregation. Allen Roberts says that on behalf of the Camden and El Dorado districts, he also is asking the state Supreme Court to consider integration concerns as it evaluates the state's efforts to make education reforms. Roberts says many majority-black school districts in south Arkansas are surrounded by majority-white districts. He says a law requiring administrative consolidation of districts with less than 350 students could bring the white districts together. In his filing with the state Supreme Court, Roberts wrote that the change virtually insures a racially-segregated public education system in parts of Arkansas with substantial numbers of black students.