Judge upholds most of state charter school law

The Seattle TimesDecember 12, 2013 

Supporters and opponents of Washington State’s new charter school law both found good news in a judge’s ruling today that found part of the charter law unconstitutional.

Both sides agree that King County Superior Court Judge Jean A. Rietschel’s ruling strikes down the part of the law that would have made charter schools eligible for state construction money because they’re not considered “common schools.”

But supporters say that part can be carved out of the law and won’t stop its implementation.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, whose office defended the law’s constitutionality in the case, agrees.

“The court has held the vast majority of the charter schools initiative constitutional, and the state will continue to implement this law,” he said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

Opponents believe the finding that charter schools aren’t common schools could affect how the state funds them, said Paul Lawrence, the lead attorney representing the state teachers’ union and other organizations that filed suit challenging the law’s constitutionality.

Lawrence said that charter school proponents had told voters these schools would be the same as regular public schools and the court’s ruling determined that they are not the same.

He said the plaintiffs likely will appeal the case to the Washington State Supreme Court.

A coalition led by the state teachers union filed the suit in July asking a judge to declare the law unconstitutional for “improperly diverting public school funds to private organizations that are not subject to local voter control” and “impeding the State’s constitutional obligation to amply provide for and fully fund K-12 public education.”

Lisa Macfarlane, state director of Democrats for Education Reform, which backed the charter school law, said the 22 charter schools seeking approval are not depending on state construction money.

“We’re thrilled with the judge’s ruling,” Macfarlane said.

Read the full ruling here:

The News Tribune is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service