State Supreme Court Will Not Reconsider Ruling That Ends State Funding For Charters | KNKX

State Supreme Court Will Not Reconsider Ruling That Ends State Funding For Charters

Nov 19, 2015

UPDATED — Washington state Supreme Court justices have denied a request from charter school advocates to reconsider an earlier ruling that ends state funding for charter schools.

A spokeswoman for the court said justices original ruling will become effective Dec. 14.

"Now, with the ruling today, it's even more evident that the responsibility of keeping these schools open falls at the feet of the legislature," said Cynara Lilly, a spokeswoman for Act Now For Washington Students, an offshoot of the Washington Charter School Association.

To date, charter schools have been public schools operated by a non-profit organization, not a school district, and overseen by appointed boards.

In September, justices ruled charter schools could not receive state funding because they're not overseen by elected boards.

Charter advocates and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson responded, filing motions asking the court to reconsider its ruling. Charter schools continued to receive public funding as justices weighed the motion.

On Thursday, five of the court's nine justices issued an opinion saying they would only redact a roughly 280-word footnote from the original 20-page decision.

However, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said that small change is significant. In a statement, he said deleting the footnote shortened a list of unintended consequences that might have followed from their ruling.

“By removing [the] footnote," Ferguson's statement said, "the court eliminated a significant threat to programs like Running Start, tribal compact schools, and vocational education."

Nine charter schools are currently open in Washington state. More are in the works to open.

After the ruling in September, the Washington Charter School Association had said a network of something like 50 donors would step in if necessary to cover the — at the time — $14 million cost of keeping all nine schools open through the end of the year.

"While we are working on a contingency plan that will keep schools open and kids in class, the urgency for legislators to act to keep school doors open is even greater," association spokeswoman Maggie Meyers said in an email.

Staffers at the Washington State Charter School Commission had no immediate comment on the ruling.

This post was updated on Friday, Nov. 20, to add comment from the state's Attorney General.