School districts want Dorn’s lawsuit to take back seat to McCleary case; Columbian wants anti-charter suit to go away

Five local school districts want the courts to table a lawsuit filed against them by Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn. The Everett Herald reports,

Five of Washington’s largest school districts, including Everett, want to put the brakes on a lawsuit challenging their use of local levies on teacher salaries and basic education services for students.

Litigating the claims of state schools chief Randy Dorn now would be a waste of time and money because they are part of the McCleary school funding case in front of the Supreme Court,according to a motion filed Monday by lawyers for the districts.

We wrote about the lawsuit here and presented the mixed editorial reviews given Dorn’s action. The districts’ brief echoes the argument made by The News Tribune editorial board, which wrote 

He hopes to spur action from the legislature, but forcing governance through the judiciary hasn’t worked so well, and Dorn’s recent lawsuit certainly won’t do more than the Supreme Court is already doing.

The districts make a similar argument, saying the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision addresses issues raised by Dorn, therefore Dorn’s suit should be stayed pending resolution of McCleary. They add,

It is more than a little ironic that in the McCleary litigation Dorn decried the Legislature’s chronic underfunding of school districts, yet he has now forced these District administrators to spend time and incur attorneys’ fees to defend themselves…

While the Districts understand—and share—the Superintendent’s frustration that the Legislature has not fully funded the State’s public schools, this Court should exercise its discretion to stay this case until the Supreme Court concludes its active monitoring of the remedy for the State’s constitutional violations and relinquishes jurisdiction in McCleary.

We wrote before that the suit brought by SPI contributed little but uncertainty to the school funding challenges already at the top of the 2017 legislative agenda. In this instance, the districts’ appeal for a stay makes sense.

In other school lawsuit news (who knew that could become a category?), the Columbian weighs in on the suit filed by opponents of charter public schools. 

A lawsuit filed last week in an attempt to scuttle Washington’s charter-school system was inevitable — and yet it is disappointing. A coalition led by the Washington Education Association — the state’s teachers union — is asking the courts to overturn the Legislature’s solution to the ongoing debate over charter schools. In the process, it has further muddied the waters of school funding in the state.

…Students, parents, administrators and, yes, even teachers in Washington would be better served if the focus remained on funding K-12 education while allowing the charter-school experiment to play out on its own.

Good thought.

UPDATE: The Spokesman-Review and the Union-Bulletin also have good editorials today supporting charter schools and expressing disappointment with the opponents’ latest court challenge.