Washington State Supreme Court Rules Against Funding Charters

Published November 27, 2015

On September 4, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled by a 6–3 vote public charter schools are not eligible for state funding.

The state’s high court determined because charters are not run by an appointed board or nonprofit organization, they are not subject to local voter control and therefore don’t meet the state’s constitutional definition of a “public school.”

Nine charter schools are currently operating in Washington, with three more planned to open in 2016.

Washington’s attorney general (AG) filed a motion challenging the Supreme Court’s ruling. Since then several former attorney generals, representatives, and senators from both sides of the aisle publically agreed with the AG’s motion. Charter school advocates say the state legislature could save the charter law regardless of the appellate court’s decision.

“The same glitch the court says disqualifies public charter schools from receiving funding could also defund tribal schools and any other public school that isn’t directly supervised by an elected board,” said Thomas Franta, CEO of the Washington State Charter Schools Association. “The state’s attorney general has even said the decision could invalidate a wide range of school programs that provide students with college credits while still in high school, as well as technical and career education programs. The bottom line is this: The legislature needs to fix this glitch.”

Tom Gantert ([email protected]) is senior capitol correspondent for Michigan Capitol Confidential, a daily news site of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Image by Beth Cortez-Neavel.