Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin rejects constitutional education rights ballot proposal

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The attorney general rejected a second effort on Thursday by a coalition working to get an education rights amendment before Arkansas voters in November.

This was the second submission by the For AR Kids Ballot Question Committee to be rejected. In both cases, Attorney General Tim Griffin cited the ambiguity of the language of the submission.

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin rejects education ballot initiative

The proposal was submitted under the popular name, “Arkansas Educational Rights Amendment of 2024.”

In the Thursday rejection, Griffin again cited ambiguity in language that would add two sections to Article 14 of the state constitution. That article assures a school system for Arkansans.

The first issue was ballot language that included the state’s “provision” of resources. Griffin said the use of that word was ambiguous, as it could be used to require the state to go as far as designing and building school buildings and more by the way it was used in the proposal.

The second issue was the language in a second section of the submission, which required schools to meet academic standards if they received “tax benefits.” This could go as far as to involve private schools where parents pay for tuition from state programs, such as Arkansas Brighter Future, or are not-for-profit since those could be called “tax benefits,” both a too-broad outcome due to ambiguity, the opinion stated.

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By law, the attorney general can not change the legal language of a ballot proposal, which is where the two issues were noted.

The opinion was prepared by Assistant Attorney General Jodie Keener over Griffin’s signature.

For AR Kids responded quickly to the rejection, stating it would resubmit a reworked proposal in the coming days. The group also stated it would consider litigation if it could not come to an agreement with the AG’s office on language.

The coalition’s release stated it had a three-point goal within the proposal: to assure universal access to education for 3 to 4-year-olds, establish minimum school quality standards, and require private schools to meet the same standards as public schools.

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For AR Kids is made up of the Arkansas Public Policy Panel, the Arkansas Conference of the NAACP, the Arkansas Education Association, the Citizens First Congress and The Citizens for Arkansas Public Education and Students, also known as CAPES.

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