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Attorney General Griffin Files Challenges to Race-Based Restrictions on School Choice in Three Arkansas Districts

Griffin: ‘Parents, not the government, must be allowed to decide what’s best for their children’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin today issued the following statement announcing he has filed three motions in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas to end decades-long, race-based restrictions on school choice in three Arkansas school districts:

“School choice is the law today in Arkansas. Unconstitutional, race-based consent decrees from decades past are denying equal rights to parents to select the school that best meets the needs of their children. I have filed motions to terminate federal consent decrees in the El Dorado, Hope and Lafayette County school districts so that students there can realize the educational opportunities available to their peers across the rest of the state.

“Despite segregation ending decades ago, several school districts have left outdated consent decrees on the books and rely on them to opt out of school choice, thereby avoiding competition and retaining funds for students who would otherwise leave. Schools must be accountable to parents, and children should not be stuck in schools that aren’t meeting their needs. Parents, not the government, must be allowed to decide what’s best for their children.”


The Hope and Lafayette County school districts are currently subject to consent decrees entered into during the 1980s to resolve desegregation litigation. All allegations of segregation were resolved long ago, but those school districts used the still-existing decrees as a basis to opt out of Arkansas’s school choice law beginning in 2013. The Office of the Attorney General successfully blocked the districts’ efforts to continue to exempt themselves from school choice.

The El Dorado School District was desegregated by court order in litigation that resolved in the early 1970s. Despite no allegations of unconstitutional behavior appearing in the decades since, the court’s order was used as a basis to exempt the district from school choice. The district and plaintiffs’ lawyers successfully worked together in 2016 to secure a continuing exemption from Arkansas’s school-choice law that is still in effect.

To read the Hope School District filing, click here.

To read the Lafayette County School District filing, click here.

To read the El Dorado School District filing, click here.

About Attorney General Tim Griffin

Tim Griffin was elected attorney general of Arkansas on November 8, 2022. He was elected lieutenant governor of Arkansas on November 4, 2014, and was re-elected for his second four-year term on November 6, 2018. From 2011-2015, Griffin served as the 24th representative of Arkansas’s Second Congressional District. For the 113th Congress, he was a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means while also serving as a Deputy Whip for the Majority. In the 112th Congress, he served as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the House Committee on the Judiciary.

Griffin is a graduate of Magnolia High School, Hendrix College in Conway, and Tulane Law School in New Orleans. He attended graduate school at Oxford University. Griffin has served as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve’s Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps for over 25 years and currently holds the rank of colonel. In 2005, Griffin was mobilized to active duty as an Army prosecutor at Fort Campbell, Kentucky and served with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault in Mosul, Iraq). He is currently serving as the Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) for the 81st Readiness Division at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Prior to his current post, Griffin served as the Commander of the 134th Legal Operations Detachment (LOD) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and a senior legislative advisor to the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness at the Pentagon. Griffin holds a master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. He also served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas and Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Political Affairs for President George W. Bush. Griffin lives in Little Rock with his wife, Elizabeth, a Camden native, and their three children.