LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A lawsuit was filed Monday against Sarah Huckabee Sanders LEARNS Act.
The lawsuit filed Monday in Pulaski County Circuit Court accuses the Arkansas Department of Education of illegally and unconstitutionally entering a contract with a charter school management company as part of Arkansas LEARNS.
The lawsuit states that because the act had an emergency clause, that was not voted on separately from the bill, Arkansas LEARNS is not yet state law.
The lawsuit was filed by concerned parents, along with Citizens for Arkansas Public Education and Students.
It states that the board illegally voted to allow Secretary of Education Jacob Oliva to enter into a contract that would allow a company to operate the Marvell-Elaine School District as allowed by Arkansas LEARNS.
Ali Noland, the lawyer for the plaintiffs in the case, said the lawmakers rushed to pass the LEARNS Act and did not pass the emergency clauses, but only regulated the timing of a bill becoming law. Noland said that timing is extremely important.
“The LEARNS Act was rushed through the legislature, and the emergency clause in the bill wasn’t passed correctly. It’s simply invalid under the plain language of the Arkansas Constitution,” Noland said. “While emergency clauses only regulate the timing of a bill becoming law, for my clients, that timing is extremely important.”
“We fully expect the Arkansas Court system to tell the legislative and executive branches that they aren’t above the law, that the constitution says what it says, and that the LEARNS Act isn’t the law yet in Arkansas,” Noland concluded.
State Senator Bart Hester responded, saying that lawmakers followed the constitution in passing the LEARNS Act and the emergency clause.
“As I have said since the beginning, when you can’t find a problem with the merits you complain about process,” Hester said.
The Governor’s office is calling the lawsuit meritless, saying “Chamber procedure for the session did not deviate from the process that has been followed by the House and Senate for decades.”