Tuesday, November 19, 2013

School settlement: Comment from afar

Posted By on Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 1:05 AM

click to enlarge LONE HOLDOUT: Leslie Fisken (center) prevented John Walker from speaking at Monday's LRSD board meeting. On the left is board member C.E. McAdoo. Right is member Dianne Curry. (corrected) - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • LONE HOLDOUT: Leslie Fisken (center) prevented John Walker from speaking at Monday's LRSD board meeting. On the left is board member C.E. McAdoo. Right is member Dianne Curry. (corrected)

I signed on a balky Internet from a ship off the Spanish coast this morning to — hope against hope — find my rare optimism  had  been  warranted and  that the  Pulaski desegregation case had been settled.

Yes.

Then I read the blog report on the school board meeting at which it happened.

Oh no.

A single Little Rock School Board member, Leslie Fisken, prevented John Walker, the lawyer who's worked on behalf of black children for a half-century as a party to the case, from speaking.

Dumb. Hard not to see it as spiteful. Walker wanted to make a point about an issue he will continue to press with even more vigor — location of school facilities. It wasn't going to be pleasant in the best of circumstances. 

John Walker was right.

The vote against him  was symbolic  — a white board member suppressing speech by an advocate for black children who made the agreement happen. It was also fruitless, as the end of the meeting soon proved.

Fisken should have reflected on how Walker's settlement saved the district a good two years of last-gasp appellate court litigating, at a minimum. And perhaps more significant damage.

Settlement or not, the district's imperative to do right by the children at the root of this case isn't diminished by Monday's news. You may be sure one man in the room last night will remind them of that frequently.

Back to watching the distant horizon.

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