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Board returns local control to Little Rock School District

July 8, 2021 GMT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Board of Education on Thursday lifted the last remaining restrictions on the Little Rock School District, returning it fully to local control nearly six and a half years after a state takeover.

Arkansas took over the 21,000-student district in 2015 over lagging test scores at several schools, dissolving the local school board. The state in 2019 returned control to a new board that was elected in November, but kept some limits on its authority.

The restrictions lifted include a requirement that the Little Rock School Board not hire or fire superintendents without the state’s approval, and a prohibition on recognizing any bargaining agent for teachers without state approval. The now-lifted restrictions had also prohibited the district from suing the state.

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The local teachers’ union went on strike in 2019 over the state’s ongoing control of the district and their loss of collective bargaining rights. A new state law set to take effect this month, however, banning collective bargaining by most government employees will still prevent the district from recognizing the union as its bargaining agent.