Judge to decide fate of new charter school law
A judge will soon decide whether the state’s new charter school law is an innovative tool for educating Washington’s children or violates the state Constitution’s mandate for an equal education for all.
King County Superior Court Judge Jean Rietschel heard arguments Friday in a lawsuit brought by a coalition of parents, educators and community groups, asking the court to prevent further implementation of the year-old law and declare it unconstitutional.
The state attorney general’s office, representing the people of Washington, argued the charter law enhances education in Washington and does not circumvent anything in the state Constitution or the court decisions that have clarified sections on education.
Rietschel said she would not issue a ruling until she has time to carefully consider the issue.
Applications from people who want to open the state’s first charter schools were due Friday, with the first of these alternative public schools scheduled to open in fall 2014. The Washington State Charter School Commission said it received 19 proposals by the 5 p.m. deadline.
Charter school opponents, represented by Attorney Paul Lawrence, say the law passed by voters last year is unconstitutional because it interferes with the state’s obligation to pay for public schools, set a uniform curriculum and establish other rules. Lawrence also argued the law takes authority granted by the Constitution away from the superintendent of public instruction and from the Legislature.