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