SUMMIT ATLAS WEB NOTICE OF ONGOING LITIGATION
The Washington State Charter Schools Act requires charter schools to inform you of any ongoing litigation challenging the constitutionality of charters schools, or litigation that could require charter schools to cease operations.
· A case challenging the constitutionality of Washington’s charter school law was filed on August 3, 2016. The case is captioned El Centro de la Raza v. State, King County Superior Court Cause No. 16-2-18527-4SEA. On February 17, 2017, King County Superior Court Judge John H. Chun ruled that the charter school law is constitutional. However, this ruling is subject to an ongoing appeal. If the Plaintiffs win the case on appeal, then charter schools could be required to cease operating.
· Summit Atlas is confident that the new public charter school law passes constitutional muster and confident in the successful future of public charter schools in Washington.
In September 2015, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that the state’s voter-approved charter school law was unconstitutional due to a glitch in the way the schools were funded. The charter schools continued to operate for the 2015-16 school year while students, families, and charter school supporters appealed to the state legislature to save their public schools. After months of grassroots efforts, families and advocates achieved an unprecedented win when the legislature approved a new charter a new charter school law that will keep public charter schools open and serving diverse Washington communities for the long-term. The new law took effect on April 2, 2016. The law’s passage allows Washington’s currently thriving public charter schools to remain open and creates a path forward for communities to open new schools and serve more of the state’s children.
We now have a strong, new, constitutionally sound charter school law that earned the approval of the state legislature, and which fixes the funding glitch previously identified by the Washington State Supreme Court. We are confident that the new public charter school law passes constitutional muster and confident in the successful future of public charter schools in Washington.
The new charter school law was designed specifically to address the Washington Supreme Court’s constitutionality concerns with the original voter-approved public charter school law. Specifically, the new charter school law addresses the Court’s decision by explicitly stating that charter schools are public schools but not common schools, and by funding public charter schools from a separate account that cannot receive state funds that are constitutionally limited to common schools.
Washington’s public charter schools are highly accountable to both the state and the voters – and most importantly, to the students and families that they serve. Public charter schools are overseen by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education; are subject to the same state and federal laws regarding health, safety, civil rights, and nondiscrimination as every other public school; are subject to annual audits for legal and fiscal compliance; must seek reauthorization every five years; and are held accountable every day by parents’ choice. Charter school teachers must meet the same certification requirements as traditional public school teachers, including background checks, and charter school students must meet the same academic standards and participate in the same statewide assessment system as students in traditional public schools.
According to a recent survey, the new law restoring Washington’s public charter schools is supported by 71 percent of Washington voters polled. The survey was conducted after lawmakers approved the measure on a bipartisan vote.