Signatures are being collected for a petition to detach Jacksonville and northern Pulaski County from the Pulaski County Special School District and form a separate district, the state Board of Education was told Monday.
Attorney Patrick Wilson and state Rep. Mark Perry D-Jacksonville, gave the board an update on the long-running detachment effort, which they said is moving ahead with support from both residents of the area seeking to detach and the Pulaski County district.
Under legislation by Perry that was enacted this year, the process requires collecting signatures from a number of voters in the area seeking to detach equal to 10 percent of the number of voters in the area who voted in the last general election, which for the Jacksonville area is 1,270.
Perry told the board that supporters of detachment have already collected close to 1,500 signatures and hope to present close to 2,000 signatures to the state Board of Education at its June meeting.
Wilson told the board, “We’ve done very well with that. The fact that we’ve done very well with that is a direct result of the fact that the Jacksonville people want this. They are actively working for this.”
If the board determines that the petition is valid, it then will request an attorney general’s opinion on whether the detachment would negatively impact desegregation, Wilson said. He presented the board with a feasibility study that he said shows there would be no negative impact on desegregation and that the area to be detached can support its own district.
If the attorney general agrees that there would be no negative impact, the board will order an election on detachment at the time of the next school or general election, Wilson said.
State Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell said the state Board of Education also would need to seek a ruling from the U.S. District Court in Little Rock that detachment would not violate the 1989 desegregation settlement to which the Pulaski County district is a party.
Wilson said that obtaining approval from the federal court is “the biggest unknown” in the process.