Spokane International AcademyWashington State Supreme Court has rejected Charter Schools. Charter schools are unconstitutional in Washington, the state Supreme Court said in a decision that endangers two charters in Spokane that just opened. The court in its decision released September 4, 2015, voided an initiative approved by voters in 2012, saying charter schools don’t fit the definition of “common schools” that’s set down in the constitution, because they lack local control and local accountability. The court’s majority said it wasn’t concerned about the merits of charter schools. Instead, the case revolves strictly around whether the initiative complies with the constitution, specifically Article IX, which says state revenues can only go to common schools and court-tested definitions of those institutions.
Spokane Public Schools supported the creation of charter schools from the very beginning. The district is a charter school authorizer, meaning that Spokane's 2 charter schools presented their school plans to the district prior to opening, although they remained financially independent. The charter school initiative passed with 50.7% approval in 2012, making Washington the 42nd state to approve charter schools. Then, on September 4, just weeks after the schools opened, the state Supreme Court ruled that charter schools, privately run and publicly funded, are unconstitutional and cannot receive public money. The Supreme Court decision is expected to go into effect December 14, 2015, at which point charter schools will no longer receive state money. (State charter schools may join Springdale district, reporter Eli Francovich, The Spokesman-Review, December 5, 2015)
“In sum, without funding, charter schools are not viable,” Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote in an opinion that struck down the entire initiative. Justice Mary Fairhurst said the schools might be able to get other tax money that isn’t restricted in the general fund. ("Court rejects charter schools, 6-3 ruling says money used unconstitutionally under Initiative 1240, reporter Jim Camden, email@example.com, (509) 7461, The Spokesman-Review, September 5, 2015)
Supreme Court's final decision. The Washington Supreme Court says it will not reconsider its ruling striking down the state charter school law. Nine charter schools have opened in the state under the conditions of the 2012 law. They have continued to receive state funding pending the court's decision on the request for reconsideration. Supporters of charter schools say they will find the money to keep those schools open even when state dollars stop flowing toward the independent public schools. The court also removed one section from its ruling that some people argued would make other kinds of alternative schools ineligible for state dollars. (Source: "No reconsideration for charter schools," by Donna Gordon Blankinship, Associated Press, November 20, 2015)Charter Schools and Running Start help to move students out of over-crowded classrooms in public schools; however, in addition to Charter Schools, additional programs like Running Start, tribal compact schools and specialized skill programs could also be affected by the ruling, putting them in jeopardy. Washington State Charter Schools Association CEO Thomas Franta said, "All of those operations are governed in the same way." (AG urges court to reconsider, as charter schools weigh options, by Eli Francovich, The Spokesman-Review, September 25, 2015)