LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Arkansas officials on Wednesday posted online the terms of a proposed settlement of a decades-old desegregation lawsuit involving Little Rock-area schools.
The lawsuit is one of the longest-running desegregation battles in the country, and the settlement would bring an end to special state payments to the Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County school districts.
The state has spent more than $1 billion on desegregation efforts in the districts. Under the proposed settlement, the payments that total a combined $70 million per year would end in 2018.
A federal judge has given preliminary approval to the proposed class-action settlement but the agreement has to pass muster in a fairness hearing that is set for Jan. 13-14.
To prepare for the hearing, the sides had to give notice of the proposed agreement to members of the class — families with black children who are students in the districts.
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced Wednesday that documents detailing the settlement proposal were posted on his office's website at http://www.ArkansasAG.gov .
The fairness hearing provides a venue for anyone who objects to the proposal to air their complaints. Opponents can also file their written objections in U.S. District Court in Little Rock.
Opponents will be able to introduce evidence at the fairness hearing and the parties in the case will be able to respond.
Sides in the settlement include two groups of district patrons, known as the Joshua and Knight intervenors. The three school districts are also represented and McDaniel's office represents the state.