Arkansas, Critical Race Theory

Arkansas Sued By High School Teacher And Students Over Critical Race Theory Ban

Central High is not backing down!

A teacher and students from the iconic Little Rock Central High School have filed a lawsuit against the state of Arkansas over the ban of critical race theory and “indoctrination” in public schools. 

The suit was filed by civil rights attorneys Mike Laux and Austin Porter Jr. in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas on behalf of three students, their parents and AP African American Studies teacher Ruthie Walls. 

Stating “it absolutely chills free speech,” the suit pushes for a federal judge to rule the restrictions as unconstitutional, along with arguing the restrictions made by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders in 2023 violate free speech protections under the First Amendment and the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. “Indeed, defendants’ brazen attack on full classroom participation for all students in 2024 is reminiscent of the state’s brazen attack on full classroom participation for all students in 1957,” the suit reads. 

Court documents also describe the restrictions as discriminating “on the basis of race.” Following several other GOP-led states, Arkansas has placed limitations on the way race is taught in public classrooms, including limitations on critical race theory and a framework dating back to the 1970s — centering the idea that racism is pushed into institutions. 

Shortly after Huckabee Sanders signed the executive order banning “indoctrination” — on her first day in office — corresponding language was added to the LEARNS Act, a new piece of legislation that swiftly removed the advanced placement course from its list of approved courses just days prior to the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year last August. “In the state of Arkansas, we will not indoctrinate our kids and teach them to hate America or each other,” Huckabee Sanders said, according to The Associated Press. 

“It’s sad the radical left continues to lie and play political games with our kids’ futures.”

Following the new legislation, the Little Rock School District (LRSD) stood its ground and continued to offer AP African American studies for credit. As students were excited to learn and considering the district’s history, the district was proud to offer it. “We are fortunate to have one of the foremost subject matter experts leading the instruction at Central High School who has expressed that her students are enthusiastic about the opportunity to take the course,” the district said in a statement. 

“AP African American Studies will allow students to explore the complexities, contributions, and narratives that have shaped the African American experience throughout history, including Central High School’s integral connection.”

Central High is home to the Little Rock Nine, a group of African American students who desegregated the school in 1957 after being escorted by federal troops after the governor gave the order to the state National Guard to block their entry.

Fighting with Walls, the students identified as plaintiffs are freshman Sadie Belle Reynolds, senior Gisele Davis, and one other unnamed student. Both Reynolds and Davis are currently enrolled in the AP course and have been celebrated as “walking in the footsteps of the Little Rock Nine.”