Parents fight to choose school districts

The Arkansas Department of Education held a hearing during a State Board of Education meeting on Thursday. Board members heard multiple appeals cases from the denial of their children's School Choice applications.

The Arkansas Public School Choice Act is a historic provision the state changed a couple of years ago that allows parents the opportunity to choose their child's district.

Although parents can apply, they can still be denied.

Ashley Shabazz lives in Pine Bluff. Shabazz has four kids originally zoned for the Watson Chapel School District. Three of Shabazz's children attend school in the White Hall School District.

Her youngest son is about to start kindergarten. Shabazz applied for him to be in the White Hall School District as well but was denied.

The board overturned Shabazz's denial at Thursday's hearing.

Shabazz said, "I thought they were going to go down the list and deny everybody. So I was kind of shocked."

Donn Mixon, school attorney for Trumann School District, said handling School Choice application cases can be difficult.

According to Mixon if a potential transfer student requires extra staffing and resources that are beyond the ability of the school, the school can deny the student.

Mixon said the district's financial responsibility has become one of the more prominent reasons schools deny students.

"It's an economic consideration that says 'ok', non-resident district, you don't have to take them if you are going to have to bear a substantial expense," Mixon said.

The following districts are exempt from the Public School Choice Act for the 2014 - 2015 school year:

Arkadelphia School District

Blytheville School District

Brinkley School District

Camden Fairview School District

Cutter Morning Star School District

Dollarway School District

El Dorado School District

Forrest City School District

Fountain Lake School District

Helena-West Helena School District

Hope School District

Hot Springs School District

Jessieville School District

Junction City School District

Lafayette County School District

Lake Hamilton School District

Lakeside School District (Garland County)

Marvell-Elaine School District

Pulaski County Special School District

South Conway County School District

Texarkana School District