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Choice: Guide to PreK-12 Education in Arkansas

When it comes to public education, one size (or school, or system) doesn't fit all. All Arkansas resident students, no matter their culture, economic status or ZIP Code, have a right to the following public education choices:

  • Register, enroll at your assigned school of your resident school district
  • Apply for intra-district  transfer to your school of choice within your resident school district
  • Apply for inter-district transfer to your school of choice in a non-resident district (Deadline May 1st)
    • Application
    • Rules
    • Deadline (May 1)
      "This application must be filed in the nonresident district or postmarked no later than May 1 of the year in which the applicant would begin the fall semester at the nonresident district."
    • Appeal
      "A student whose application for transfer is rejected by the nonresident district may request a hearing before the State Board of Education to reconsider the transfer by filing such a request in writing with the Commissioner of Education no later than ten (10) days after the student or student’s parent receives a notice of rejection."
    • Circuit Court Relief
      If the appeal before the State Board of Education is denied, the Attorney General's Opinion of July 7, 2015 speculates "that a parent of a student would mount a challenge by seeking relief from a court of competent jurisdiction."
  • If assigned to one of following resident school district schools designated in Academic Distress:

    • Blytheville Middle School
    • Dollarway High School
    • Dollarway Robert F. Morehead Middle School
    • Forrest City High School
    • Forrest City Jr. High
    • Forrest City Lincoln Academy
    • Helena-West Helena Central High School
    • Hope High School
    • Little Rock Hall High School
    • Little Rock Cloverdale Middle School
    • Little Rock Henderson Middle School
    • Marvell-Elaine High School
    • Pulaski County Special Mills High School
    • Strong-Huttig Strong High School
  • Apply for Opportunity School Choice transfer to your non-Academic Distress school of choice, within or without resident district (Deadline July 30)
    • Application, Rules
    • Deadline (July 30)
      "The parent or guardian, or the student if the student is over eighteen (18) years of age, has notified the Department of Education and both the transferring and receiving school districts of the request to transfer no later than July 30 of the first year in which the student intends to transfer."
    • Appeal
      • "Within thirty (30) days from receipt of an application from a student seeking admission under these rules, the superintendent of the nonresident district shall notify in writing the parent or guardian, or the student if the student is over eighteen (18) years of age, whether the Opportunity Public School Choice application has been accepted or rejected. The notification shall be sent via FirstClass Mail to the address on the application."
      • "The student or the student’s parent or guardian (hereinafter the appealing party) must present a written appeal to the State Board of Education via certified mail, return receipt requested, no later than ten (10) calendar days, excluding weekends and legal holidays, after the appealing party receives notice of rejection from the superintendent of the nonresident district in accordance with Section 4.04 of these rules." 

School Choice Exemptions 

Only the seven school districts of Garland County have been directed by a U.S. District Judge to not participate in School Choice. Of the remaining 230 school districts in Arkansas participating in and benefitting from School Choice, only the following nine choose to exempt, based on what they claim to be "conflicting federal court orders." However, nothing precludes Arkansans from applying for School Choice transfer to or from any of these districts by the appropriate deadline, then pursuing appeal to the State Board of Education and/or Circuit Court if denied.

If you would like to launch, support a public campaign(s) to convince any of the aforementioned districts to choose Choice, contact Gary Newton,


Arkansas Department of Education


Arkansas Department of Education


University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy


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