Reactions and analysis of AG’s appeal to state Supreme Court on charter school ruling

Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a motion with the state Supreme Court, asking it to reconsider its 6-3 ruling that the state charter school law is unconstitutional.  The AG’s brief is worth reading in its entirety. We won’t attempt to excerpt from it here.

From the AG’s press release:

“It is my duty to defend the will of the voters. Given the significant impacts of this ruling on Washington students and their families, we are respectfully asking the Supreme Court to take another look at its decision,” Ferguson said.

The State’s motion asks the Court to reconsider its ruling because the opinion “goes beyond what is necessary to resolve this case, creates tension with other decisions of this court, and calls into question programs far beyond charter schools.”

The State asks the court to reverse its decision to set aside the entirety of I-1240. Failing that, the State asks the court to reexamine several aspects of its ruling that call into question the legality of a range of existing, innovative public school programs. These programs assist at-risk youth, provide career and technical training, and allow students to earn college credits while in high school. 

The AG also filed a motion calling for delay of the effective date of the court ruling, should the reconsideration motion fail.

In a separate motion also filed today, the State asks that the Court delay the effective date of its ruling until the end of the school year if it denies the State’s motion for reconsideration. Over 1,000 Washington students are currently enrolled in charter schools. Many of these students are low income, English language learners, or students with disabilities. These at-risk students and their families would be severely harmed if forced to change schools mid-year. As the motion details, many studies have found that at-risk students are harmed by changing schools mid-year. Likewise, school districts would struggle to accommodate a mid-year influx of students that would require increased space, staffing, and other resource needs. 

Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn offered his support for the AG’s motion, emphasizing the stay.

Whether you agree or disagree with the Supreme Court’s ruling, one thing is clear: The nearly 1,300 students now attending charter schools must be protected. Their education is as important as the other 1.07 million public school students.

That’s why I strongly support the Attorney General’s call to push back the timing of the final order…

Also important is the motion for reconsideration. The Court’s ruling raises funding and governance issues. Does the ruling affect funding for Running Start? Does it affect control of tribal schools? Gaining clarity on those issues is essential if our public school system is to function efficiently.

I thank the Attorney General for the filings. The courts are examining a lot of complex issues. I want to make sure, though, that grownup problems don’t become our children’s problems.

The Washington Research Council has a succinct, useful analysis of the AG’s motion, including an observation on how the court ruling may have unforeseen budget and initiative campaign consequences.

Additional coverage from the Associated Press

In other news, following a judge’s ruling that striking Kelso teachers are in contempt and subject to fines, the teachers should be back to work today.