Thursday, September 24, 2015

Washington State Charter Law Updates

From my previous thread and now with some answers to questions arising from the reconsideration extension granted to the Washington State Charter School Association by the Washington State Supreme Court.

To review, here's what I wrote in my first thread about the ruling:
The Court just recently granted this extension and the due date is October 23rd.  To note, Attorney General Bob Ferguson is also asking for a reconsideration.  (Want to e-mail him to let him know there are better issues before his office? 

This would seem to mean that the Court would allow state funding for all charter schools thru much of October until that reconsideration motion is heard.  However, the Court had sent the ruling down to King County Superior County to explain the outcomes and nothing has come from that court yet.

However, from the Yakima Herald:

The attorney representing the plaintiffs, Paul Lawrence, said Tuesday afternoon that they are still considering options, which could include asking a judge to halt the payments. At minimum, he said, they would want assurances that the state has a plan to get the money back.

“It certainly seems appropriate that the state needs to take steps to make sure that it gets repaid assuming the decision stays in place and becomes final,” Lawrence said.

Here is a Q&A between this blog and OSPI:
 SSCF:  If neither Court - Supreme or King County Superior - send OSPI direction on funding charters, will OSPI go ahead and fund the charter schools?

OSPI:  Yes

SSCF: If the money is sent, that will likely be enough to see most charters thru the school year because it's a lump sum per student?

OSPI:  Money is apportioned monthly, not yearly – so the answer to the question on its face is no. (That’s the same for public schools as well.) If, for example, the Court rules in December that its order is final and the stay is denied, then funding would cease at that point.

SSCF: If OSPI does fund charter school students but the Supreme Court, in its reconsideration, does not reverse itself, will OSPI ask charters for a pro-rated amount back?

OSPI:  That’s an unknown now. When the Supreme Court rules on the motion, we hope they will provide clarity on the apportioned money.

SSCF: Could the Superintendent speak to the issue raised about funding for Running Start being affected by the ruling?  Compact tribal schools?

OSPI: That’s an issue we hope the Supreme Court will take up in the reconsideration. Superintendent Dorn is certainly worried about the possible unintended consequences.

Also to note, the reconsideration only applied for the WSCSA and the AG is filing on their own today.  The AG is likely to ask for a "stay of the mandate until the end of the school year. "
Superintendent Dorn agrees with that; he has said that he’d like as soft a landing for those students as possible; to that end, he’d prefer that the schools be allowed to operate through the school year, so they don’t have to transfer mid-year. (The transfers also will interrupt the receiving districts, so it affects more than just the charter school students.)

What do we know now?  The charter schools are being funded from the state and probably will be at least until the end of October.  If the Court takes its time on the reconsideration (judging from how long it took them to rule in the first place), charters may be funded until the end of December or longer.

One good thing is that. like regular public schools, they get the money on a monthly basis and not in one lump sum.

I think Running Start continues to be a red herring.   Running Start students have to get a sign-off from their schools and their schools are overseen by...their local school board.

Again, any upheaval caused to these students and their families is the fault of the writers of the law, the Charter Commission and the schools themselves for not being totally upfront about this issue.  To tell taxpayers that they must continue to pay on others' mistakes seems wrong but that's where we are.

I think it would be some work for districts to take these students back in but 1) if the funding had been cut off at the beginning - enforcing the ruling - it would be been 3 weeks and 2) these students would go in various directions and not all of them would likely go back to their public school districts.  


Catherine said...

Have you seen TVW's The Impact? Most of your points were addressed either by the state Charter School Commission, OSPI or the League of Women Voters.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I did but I tend to do my own following up on issues.

Carol Simmons said...

On Sept 16th, Jim and I emailed Attorney General Bob Ferguson's office requesting that he not ask the court to reconsider their ruling regarding Charter Schools. We received a response that he had received our message. You need to use a special form to contact his office. Please do so. Thank you

Anonymous said...

It's Done

Watching said...

More drivel from Lisa MacFarlane of DFER:

Teacher Greg said...

Transfer mid-year? Its September! If they transferred when the ruling came out they would have missed zero days of public school (if they live in Seattle) since Seattle was not even in session yet.

Melissa, I have a question... I saw in the WA Charter Commission draft minutes from Sept 17th that you asked about Summits 99% number (which I too think must be bogus). Have you heard back yet? I tried tracking down information this summer on their supposed graduation rates in their California schools, but California's reporting is not very user friendly.

Melissa Westbrook said...

They claimed it was in the '90s but gave no proof (and the Charter Commission didn't ask for it). Anyone can sit before the Commission and say something but if they don't follow-up, it's not much help.

Charters don't always give out complete information on their numbers (despite being public schools).

Anonymous said...

Summit Prep 2013-14 graduation rates

Summit Everest 2013-14 graduation rates

looks like the other schools haven't graduated any classes yet.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, but the question is also how many start in their freshman class and how many finish and are they the same kids.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it would be interesting to know those numbers, but the state of California seems to be calculating by a U.S. Department of Education guideline. It appears that Washington also calculates the same way.

Do you know of a site that shows for Seattle schools "how many start in their freshman class and how many finish and are they the same kids"?

Anonymous said...

the previous post was from me


Anonymous said...

Graduation rates were just a bogus "inflated" number not long ago.

Back in the day when Susan Enfield was CAO and Michael Tolley was doing some of the checking there was a SBAR on using New Tech Schools services for the soon to be Option Cleveland HS. (Eventually SPS spent $800,000 for three-years of who-knows-what?)

The SBAR stated the New Tech Sacramento had a HS graduation rate of 98%.
I ran stats on their only two graduating classes at that point in time.

Looking at number in each First Semester freshman class and the number of that class that graduated, yielded graduation rates of 39% and 44%. Yet some California Dept of Ed. stat was the source of that 98% grad rate. Hopefully things have changed in California since then.

-- Dan Dempsey