Washington Charter School Law Won’t Be Revisited
The Washington State Supreme Court has announced that it would not reconsider its September ruling that found the charter school law in the state to be unconstitutional, which is set to become final on December 14.
Supporters of the movement, including the state charter school association and the state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, had asked the court to reconsider its decision in an effort to save charter schools throughout Washington. Ferguson also asked for the removal of a footnote that mentioned how he had posed questions pertaining to the other methods of schooling options funded by the state.
The footnote also made mention of the justices’ argument that charter schools were in violation of the state’s constitutional requirement that “a general and uniform system of public schools” be provided because they are not governed by an elected board, writes John Higgins for The Seattle Times.
While the court did agree to remove the footnote, the ruling stands with five of the nine judges agreeing that the request for reconsideration should be denied. Meanwhile, three other judges said they would need to revisit the decision in full.
Justice Mary Yu noted that she would be willing to revisit the section of the decision concerning charter school funding.
The court originally ruled on September 4 that the voter-approved charter school law in the state was unconstitutional, reasoning that the boards that oversee the schools are appointed, not elected.
The nine charter schools currently in operation in Washington have remained open while the court reached its decision. All but one of the schools had newly opened this August.
The ruling was announced the same day that buses carried over 400 students and parents in support of charter schools to Olympia for a rally at the Capitol. The group testified before a joint Senate committee meeting and also met with legislators, writes Debbie Cafazzo for The News Tribune.
Senator Mark Mullet referred to the timing of the decision as “horrible.”
“There are 300 students here who were really happy with their schools,” Mullet said. “What a bad day for the court to tell them that they’re not going to reconsider.”
Ninth grader Kate Wilton called the ruling “unfair” and pushed for lawmakers to do what they can to save her school.
“This goes against the will of Washington state voters,” Wilton said. “This is not how democracy is supposed to work.”
Senator Andy Hill noted that charter schools will be one of the major issues discussed by lawmakers at the next session. He went on to mention that the Supreme Court did not say charter schools were “good or bad,” they only ruled that the way they are paid for is unconstitutional, writes Rachel La Corte for The Bellingham Herald.
Charter school supporters have said they will find the money necessary to keep charter schools open for the rest of the year when money from the state stops coming in.