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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Charter school law unconstitutional, state Supreme Court says

Sept. 4, 2015 Updated Fri., Sept. 4, 2015 at 5:18 p.m.

Staff and wire reports
OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Supreme Court has ruled the state’s voter-approved charter-school law unconstitutional. In a 6-3 ruling issued late Friday afternoon, the high court said that charter schools do not qualify as common, public schools and cannot receive public funding. Travis Franklin of Spokane International Academy, one of two charter schools in Spokane, said he doesn’t have details on the decision yet. “We will be talking with the Washington State Charter Association tonight,” he said. “I don’t know a lot.” Franklin said announcing the decision late on a Friday before a holiday weekend is problematic. “It’s not a convenient time at all, when things just started and things are going well at the school,” he said. In the lead opinion, Chief Justice Barbara Madsen said the case wasn’t about the merits of charter schools, simply whether they were eligible. Citing state Supreme Court precedent from 1909, she said they are not, because they are not under the control of local voters. A coalition of groups, including the state teachers union, a group of Washington school administrators and the League of Women Voters, sued the state in 2013 to stop the new charter system, adopted by voters in 2012. Last year, Washington state had one charter school. This year, there will be nine — in Spokane, Tacoma, Kent, Highline and Seattle.
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