A legislative review may be on the horizon for the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts, a state representative said Wednesday.
The possibility of a legislative review follows Monday's board of visitors meeting at the school, where multiple grievances were voiced during the public comment portion of the proceedings.
Concerns raised included disapproval of the dismissal of former ASMSA employee Valerie Carpenter; the displeasure and discomfort caused to parents and students caused by the residence life staff's mandatory participation in activity known as a "privilege walk" that allegedly became a source of bullying; fear of retaliation toward faculty and students from administration; and an overall lack of transparency from school administration.
A 17-year-old male student alleged he was sexually assaulted on campus and that no action had been taken by administration after he reported the incident three weeks ago, with the alleged assailant remaining on campus.
State Rep. Brandt Smith, R-District 58, whose district includes part of Jonesboro, said he attended the meeting to support a family of constituents from his district who were voicing their concerns to the board.
Smith is the House majority whip and serves on the Joint Performance Review Committee, the House Judiciary Committee, the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee.
He also serves as an associate professor of Security and Global Studies at the online American Military University.
"I did mention to some of the advisory board following the meeting that even if only 3 or 4 percent of the allegations are true, there are still big problems that need to be resolved," Smith said.
Smith said he has reached out to Garland County legislators regarding the issues raised at the school in the days following the meeting.
"They are all supportive of maybe having the administrators come to the capital for some kind of review. Maybe some kind of Joint Performance review or Education Committee review," he said.
The Joint Performance Review Committee has the "authority to make random and periodic performance reviews of specific governmental programs and agencies; conduct investigations into specific problem areas of the administration of state government as may be brought to the attention of the committee; refer specific problems regarding the operation of state government to appropriate interim committees of the General Assembly for continuing study; and conduct hearings on citizen complaints and views regarding the operation of state government and serve as a forum for citizens to air their complaints and suggestions regarding the operation of state government," among others, according to the Arkansas Legislature's website.
The Education Committee reviews matters "pertaining to public kindergarten, elementary, secondary, and adult education, vocational education, vocational-technical schools, vocational rehabilitation, higher education, private educational institutions, similar legislation, and resolutions germane to the subject matter of the committee," the website says.
"We need to resolve these issues before they get worse," Smith said.Local on 05/16/2019
Print Headline: State rep: Review may be on horizon for ASMSA