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North Little Rock, Little Rock school districts dismissed from long-running desegregation case

Seven months after approving a settlement to end decades of desegregation payments to three school districts in Pulaski County, a federal judge on Thursday officially dismissed two of the districts from the lawsuit that led to the payments.

U.S. District Judge D.P. Marshall Jr. dismissed the Little Rock and North Little Rock school districts from the case, as well as the state of Arkansas and a group representing teachers known as the Knight intervenors.

Marshall said in his order that the Pulaski County Special School District would remain under court supervision until it is declared unitary, or desegregated, in a few remaining areas.

He said he also would retain jurisdiction to address disputes that remain unresolved between the state and the Joshua intervenors, who represent black students, and would retain jurisdiction to oversee the creation of a separate Jacksonville/North Pulaski County school district, if the proposed district comes to be.

The case, which was filed in 1982 but has its roots in the 1957 Little Rock Central High integration crisis, led to a 1989 settlement under which the state has paid more than $1 billion to the three districts to fund desegregation programs.

In January, Marshall ruled that enough progress had been made to allow him to approve an agreement to end about $70 million annually in state payments to the districts after the 2017-18 school year. In 2018-19, the three districts are to receive another year of payments to be used exclusively for school buildings.

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