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The Marvell-Elaine School District’s leaders removed by the Arkansas State Board of Education



Little Rock, Arkansas – The State Board of Education intervened urgently on behalf of the Marvell-Elaine School District on Friday.

The State Board of Education held a special meeting in response to a lawsuit delaying the implementation of the Arkansas LEARNS Act and dismissed the district’s superintendent and limited authority board.

Jacob Oliva, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Education, now has the opportunity to appoint a new superintendent while still preparing for LEARNS implementation.

The removal of the superintendent and board of directors, according to Oliva, will assist the school district remain operational.

“At the April board meeting in Marvell, community members overwhelmingly expressed their desire for the district to remain open,” Oliva said. “It’s unfortunate that a frivolous, politically motivated lawsuit is interfering with the department’s efforts to carry out the wishes of the school and local community. Every day that passes that delays enactment, student learning is in jeopardy.”

Finding a superintendent successor is now Oliva’s responsibility.

Katina Ray, the former superintendent of Marvell-Elaine, expressed her disappointment with the choice but her continued support for the school system.

“We called the state asking for the support,” Ray said. “We walked into the door knowing there were a lot of challenges and a lot of needs, but again the state had been in there for several years and there were no improvements that were needed.”

On June 30, two weeks after the state’s Supreme Court remanded the LEARNS Act to circuit court, it was halted for a second time.

Judge Herbert Wright of the Pulaski County Circuit Court determined that lawmakers did not pass the bill after separately voting on the emergency clause.

The decision delayed the LEARNS Act’s implementation until August 1st.

The Marvell-Elaine School District will now fall under state control, the superintendent will remain in place through the 2022–2023 academic year, and the limited authority board will remain in place, overturning an earlier decision made by the State Board in November 2022 to combine the district with nearby districts.

The State Board also ordered the district to sign a transformation agreement with a third party this fall to manage the district’s daily operations.

“In the interest of what is best for the community and students, the board voted to keep the district open,” said Kimberly Mundell, director of communications for the Arkansas Department of Education. “[Oliva], acting in lieu of the board, will now name a superintendent to run the daily operations of the district.”

Soon after the special meeting concluded, Citizens for Arkansas Public Education and Students (CAPES) protested the State Board of Education’s choice.

“The decision made by the State Board of Education today puts the burden of supporting the Marvell-Elaine School District back into the hands of the Arkansas Department of Education,” CAPES said in a statement.”ADE’s decades-long failure to provide the resources and support MESD needed, along with their intent to sell off the management of the district to an outside group, provides the incentive for ADE to fail more districts in our state. And they will.”


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