7 September 2015

On Friday, 4th September, Washington State Supreme Court ruled that the State's voter-approved charter-school law is unconstitutional. This law allowed 40 charter schools across the State to operate, currently enrolling around 1,200 pupils in the system.

The Court determined that the schools cannot receive public funding because the State superintendent has no control over the curriculum or day-to-day activities at the schools: "Our constitution directs the legislature to establish and fund common schools and restricts the legislature’s power to divert funds committed to common schools for other purposes even if related to education… The Charter School Act’s diversion of basic education funds allocated to the support of the common schools and common school construction funds is unconstitutional and void."

Six justices (Barbara Madsen, Charles Johnson, Susan Owens, Debra Stephens, Charlie Wiggins, Mary Yu) signed the majority opinion. Three justices (Mary Fairhurst, Steven González, Sheryl Gordon McCloud) dissented in part.

So far, and as highlighted by Jacqueline Jones in the Jurist, it still remains unclear how this ruling will affect the charter schools, but they plan to continue operating as usual next week. 

You can access the decision here.