Arkansas Supreme Court lifts temporary restraining order on LEARNS Act
The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday (June 15) lifted a temporary restraining order (TRO) of the LEARNS Act, which was imposed by a lower court judge in late May.
The state’s high court denied a request to halt the TRO in early June, but requested a number of filings in the interim. It has been reviewing filings requested by the parties involved in the lawsuit to challenge the legislature’s emergency clause procedures of the new omnibus education law supported by Gov. Sarah Sanders.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Herb Wright issued a temporary restraining order in late May indicating that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit – primarily a group of Marvell-Elaine School District parents – had a valid argument for questioning the emergency clause protocol used by the state legislature. Judge Wright said the argument that the state constitution called for “separate” votes seemed initially clear.
The Supreme Court overturned that decision Thursday and outlined a number of reasons for the TRO not being necessary, primarily because monetary damages could be awarded if the case went in favor of the plaintiffs and that TROs should be used in extraordinary circumstances.
“Accordingly, because appellees failed to meet their burden of proving irreparable harm, the circuit court abused its discretion in granting the motion for a TRO. We therefore reverse the circuit court’s order, vacate the TRO, and remand to the circuit court,” the court said.
Justice Courtney Goodson wrote the majority opinion, which was supported by Justices Baker, Wood, Womack and Webb. Justices Kemp and Wynne dissented.
You can read the court’s decision at this link.
Gov. Sarah Sanders offered the following comment:
“Today’s Supreme Court decision is a huge win for parents, teachers, and most importantly – our kids. I’ve spoken with Education Secretary Oliva – he is immediately getting back to implementing the boldest, most transformational education reform in the country. For those playing political games with our children’s future, we will fight, and we will win,” she said.
Attorney General Tim Griffin also issued a response to the Supreme Court ruling:
“This morning, the Arkansas Supreme Court reversed Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Herbert Wright’s restraining order blocking LEARNS. This is a win for Arkansas’ children, their parents and teachers. Marvell-Elaine will be able to welcome back students next year. And the Arkansas Department of Education can immediately resume planning to provide teachers higher salaries and maternity leave, make schools safer for our children, and enable the most vulnerable children to obtain the education they deserve,” he said.