A coalition of educators and parents has filed a challenge to the constitutionality of the state’s charter-school law in King County Superior Court.
A new challenge to the constitutionality of the state’s charter-school law was filed in King County Superior Court on Wednesday by a coalition of parents, educators, school administrators and civic groups.
The complaint alleges that the new law, passed earlier this year, violates the state constitution by sending public funding to charters, which are public schools run by private organizations. Those schools are unaccountable to Washington voters, the coalition says.
Last fall, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that charter schools are unconstitutional because charters do not have elected boards and therefore aren’t “common” schools under the state’s constitution, which means they are not entitled to dollars from the state’s general fund.
In March, Washington lawmakers passed a new bill that aimed to satisfy the Supreme Court’s objections by saying that charters be funded through lottery proceeds rather than the general fund.
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The coalition argues the new law is a “shell game,” with the same constitutional flaws that led the Supreme Court to strike down the first law.
But charter advocates said they believe the law is constitutional, and condemned the lawsuit as an intimidation tactic “designed to preserve a broken status quo and scare our teacher, families and students.”
The complaint also challenges the legality of the state’s decision to temporarily fund a handful of charter schools in 2015-16, even after the Supreme Court overturned the law.
The coalition includes the Washington Education Association (the state’s largest teachers union), El Centro de la Raza, the Washington Association of School Administrators, the League of Women Voters of Washington, several parents, the Washington State Labor Council and a number of Washington labor unions.