On October 3, 2005, two court-appointed special masters reported to the Arkansas Supreme Court that Arkansas's 2005 school funding legislation did not provide sufficient funding to the schools. 2005 Ark. LEXIS 577 (Ark. Oct. 4, 2005). Then, on October 27, 2005, pursuant to Ark. R. Civ. P. 53(e)(2), the State served written comments and objections to the Master’s Report, which the Court will consider once briefs are filed on both sides.
Lake View Sch. Dist. No. 25 v. Huckabee, _ S.W.3d _ (2005), 2005 WL 1358308 (Ark. June 9, 2005).
In April 2005, the Rogers School District filed a motion with the Arkansas Supreme Court seeking to have the Court reopen the Lake View school funding case, arguing the state legislature failed to follow the court's mandate to fund public education adequately. Forty-eight other school districts joined in the motion as third-party intervenors or amici curiae. In a brief opinion issued in June 2005, the Supreme Court reopened jurisdiction and recalled its mandate in Lake View III. The Court reappointed the two special masters who had previously reviewed the legislature’s 2003 and 2004 enactments to make findings of fact on plaintiffs’ allegation that the state’s 2005 enactments failed to satisfy the Lake View III ruling. The Court gave the special masters until September 1, 2005 to issue a report, unless they need additional time. The Court rejected the state’s argument that plaintiffs must file a new lawsuit. The Court pointed to the need for a speedy resolution of plaintiffs’ claims and cited its constitutional duty to ensure that the state meets its "goal of an adequate and substantially equal education for all Arkansas students."
Lake View Sch. Dist. No. 25 v. Huckabee, _ S.W.3d _, 2004 WL 1406270, 2004 Ark. LEXIS 425 (Ark. June 18, 2004). (Lake View IV).
The Supreme Court issued a decision ending its jurisdiction over the Lake View case. The Court reviewed the special masters’ report, noted the legislature’s progress in reforming the school finance system and released jurisdiction of the case citing the separation of powers doctrine. The Court did not rule on a specific definition of an adequate system for funding education.
Lake View Sch. Dist. No. 25 v. Huckabee, 91 S.W.3d 472 (Ark. 2002).
The Court rejected plaintiffs’ claim that the state equal protection clause required the state to provide equal access to preschool education, if the state either directly or indirectly funds some school districts that are providing early childhood education. The Court also rejected the argument of school district intervenors that the state must provide preschool education under the education clause as an essential component of an adequate education. The Court concluded that it lacked the authority to order the state to implement any specific programmatic remedy, including state-funded preschool, since such programs were a matter of public policy left to the authority of the state legislature.
Dupree v. Alma Sch. Dist. No. 30, 651 S.W.2d 90 (Ark. 1983).
The Arkansas Supreme Court held that the state’s system of allocating funds among school districts violated the state constitution's guarantee of equal protection and its requirement that the state provide a “general, suitable, efficient system” of education, ruling that the state’s property tax system, on which the state’s system of school funding was based, had no “rational relationship to the educational needs of the individual districts….” 651 S.W.2d at 93.