Statement from Senator Missy Irvin, Senate Education Committee Chair
October 28, 2021
Statement from Senator Missy Irvin, chair of the Senate Education Committee:
“I am so pleased to learn that all the parties have come to an agreement that will allow Mr. Nick Smith, Jr. the eligibility to play basketball during his senior year of high school, and I commend his parents for being strong advocates for their son.
“This situation sheds light on an area that clearly needs improvement to benefit all students, no matter who they are and where they go to school, and no matter what activity they participate in or what opportunity they want to pursue. Arkansas is a state where students should receive the best of what we can offer them, both academically and in opportunities to engage in athletics and extra-curricular activities.
“According to the statement released jointly by the NLRSD and PCSSD yesterday, this recent matter ‘has cast light on systemic issues in the AAA in the interpretation and application of its rules.’ They have publicly called on the AAA to ‘immediately address these issues by performing a full review and audit of its rules, procedures, systems and accountability structure with input from member schools and all AAA stakeholders.’
“As a result, there is a need for our legislature to engage in this process. Legislators are charged with the Constitutional duty to provide educational opportunities for every child in Arkansas, to ensure accountability, transparency and oversight of taxpayers’ dollars and to set the policies that affect our schools and their patrons.
“I’m grateful to Mr. Lance Taylor, Executive Director of the AAA, for his commitment to work with us through this process, and I look forward to working with him, the AAA Board of Directors, students, parents, school administrators, my colleagues in the legislature and all stakeholders. I have been contacted by many people across Arkansas who are interested in seeing this process improve for all of our students. Further, I am asking the Bureau of Legislative Research to research other states and their structures, rules, policies and procedures, especially the ones outlined in the public joint statement.
“To allow time for a more thorough process, I plan to re-schedule the Senate Education Committee meeting on this issue for November 16 at 3:00 pm.
“It is my hope that we can all work together to improve our policies to help all of our students achieve their dreams and the ultimate success for their lives.”