Citizens address school board over Trump banner, proposed bypass route

By Joel Phelps
The Arkadelphian

The Arkadelphia Board of Education on Tuesday heard from two citizens with concerns over different topics. The individuals were included on the meeting agenda following a request to address the school board. They were each given five minutes to speak on their topic. Under school board policy, board members were to listen but not respond to the issue during the meeting. The school board has the option to address the individuals’ concerns at a future meeting.

Bruce Bell, president of the Clark County NAACP, took issue with a social media post he had seen showing six Goza Middle School students holding a banner in support of a 2024 Donald Trump campaign.

Bell said he took offense and spoke separately with the school principal, superintendent and three school board members regarding the student policy handbook about political signs. He said his intent for addressing the board publicly was to affirm their recognition of his issue, and wanted to know if there had been any action taken yet to prohibit political behavior on school campuses.

Board president Casey Motl informed him the student handbook is revisited on an annual basis, at the end of each school year.

Another speaker, Dan Pipkin urged the school board to consider denying any proposed land acquisition from the Arkansas Department of Transportation. A longtime resident of Elaine Circle, Pipkin has been outspoken on the proposed bypass that is intended to route 18-wheelers away from Arkadelphia’s main thoroughfares. He’s also addressed the Arkadelphia City Board of Directors.

Pipkin is worried the roadbed required to build the bypass will further dam the stormwater that already floods his property. Arkadelphia Public Schools owns land adjacent to his and is also part of the proposed right-of-way, and his hope was that the school board would deny any of ArDOT’s acquisition proposals. To date there has not been an offer. “That gives me hope for my quest,” he told the board. “Whenever they come to you and want to give you a few dollars, ask yourself, ‘Is this the right thing to do?’.”

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