Jayran and Victoria are an impressive pair of kids.
Just seven and five years old, the brother and sister are sharp, polite, and smart. Their mom, Nadia Johnson, worried they would get bored in public school, so she sent them to Little Rock Preparatory Academy- An Exalt Academy charter school.
Exalt founder Ben Lindquist went before the state board of education Thursday morning, asking permission to build another charter in Pine Bluff.
"It's all about whether these students are being served, educationally," Lindquist said. "I think we presented compelling evidence that these students are not being served and haven't been for a long time.
But after Lindquists' presentation, rebuttal and final remarks, his application was denied, by a vote of 5-2.
The five board members who voted against Exalt cited concerns about transportation and the school's educational model, but most of all, they were worried about the competition to the Pine Bluff and state-controlled Dollarway districts.
Rudolph Howard, Deputy Superintendent of the Pine Bluff District, spoke against the charter, telling the board the introduction of a competing school would be disastrous.
"For you to approve them would indeed mean something of a death sentence as we try to present an excellent program across the board," Howard said.
With Pine Bluff schools on the verge of academic distress, and the Dollarway District already hemorrhaging students, Lindquist was if he thought the board was voting for kids, or to preserve its own interests.
"Sometimes I think that politics can end up working in the interest of adults instead of the interest of students," Lindquist said. "And I'm concerned about that being the case in this situation."