Does state law require public schools to be "open to all"?
Yes—statutory, not constitutional
Does state law mandate "equality of educational opportunity"?
Do the courts recognize education as a fundamental right?
Art. 14 § 1. Intelligence and virtue being the safeguards of liberty and the bulwark of a free and good government, the State shall ever maintain a general, suitable and efficient system of free public schools and shall adopt all suitable means to secure to the people the advantages and opportunities of education.
In Arkansas, attendance zones could be vulnerable to a challenge based on the statutory promise in Ark. Code § 6-18-202 that public schools need to be “open … to all persons in this state between the ages of 5 and 21.”
Ark. Code § 6-18- 202:“The public schools of any school district in this state shall be open and free through completion of the secondary program to all persons in this state between five (5) and twenty-one (21) years of age whose parents, foster parents, legal guard- ians, or other persons having lawful control of the person under an order of a court reside within the school district and to all persons between those ages who have been
legally transferred to the district for education purposes.”
Ark. Code § 6-18-1903 requires each school district to establish a public school choice program, although districts may opt out using a claim of lack of capacity and generally have broad leeway to limit the program. School choice transfers out of a district may not exceed 3% of the previous year’s district enrollment, less any transfers into the district.
State Law Establishing Attendance Zones
State Law Criminalizing Use Of Incorrect Address
Ark. Code § 6-18-202 states that school districts may require parents or guardians to sign oaths attesting to their residence and must immediately bar students found not to be residents of the district from attending.
Charter School Admissions
Charter schools are allowed to establish an attendance area and are allowed to discriminate against students based on their residential address.Ark. Code § 6-23-306