That was one uneventful and less-than-insightful Charter Commission meeting.
There was a brief two minutes of administrative work (minutes), then about a 15-minute executive session and then about 15 minutes of real business.
What was that real business? Basically, giving the Executive Director, Joshua Halsey, the authority to do the work to shut down the Commission's operations.
Halsey did a "frame up" of where they are. He said the Supreme Court's ruling on reconsideration (and delay of implementation of ruling) left the Commission in "unprecedented territory." He said their office had talked to other state agencies, archives, Governor's office and Auditor's office about how to bring "this agency to a close and wind down operations." (No date given but probably by the end of next week.)
He also said that they"may need to bring the contracts w/schools to a wind-down and working with OSPI about how that process may work. He said there are rules within the law about closing a charter contract but not under these conditions and timeline.
If a school does want to end its contract, it will go thru Halsey.
Chair Steve Sundquist asked about the charters and their contingency plans.
Halsey said he was working with OSPI and schools and that ALL schools were pursuing an Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) with Mary Walker School District. He went on and said that even if ALE contract doesn't pan out that "they will remain open thru remaining month of school year."
Both motions for Halsey to see winding down of CC and for him to see thru any contract issues with any charter school were approved unanimously.
Sundquist pointed out that they had "taken actions that we think are necessary for an unprecedented situation." He said they were still together as a Commission (but I think that is largely on paper.)
Halsey ended with the statement that he wanted to make it "clear to the public that the actions today pertain to the Commission and that schools are not closing for remaining months of school year."
No one even mentioned - not in public - the abrupt resignation of Commissioner Kevin Jacka, the superintendent of Mary Walker School District.
So while the CC seems to be powering down, obviously the charter schools are in high gear trying to survive. It's clear that only one district is openly pursing the ALE program for these students. That somewhat makes sense except that MWSD is so small and that alone makes it appear this is just a holding maneuver.
Thinking about it, even though there are many issues over how OSPI is bending rules for this ALE program and these charter students, really the issue is what will come AFTER the Legislature meets.
Will legislators grit their teeth and fund these schools in order to move on?
If so, where are they getting the money from?
But really, the money could be found for these schools to continue until the end of the year but what kind of schools are they? Not charters. There is no Charter Commission so who would oversee them? The ruling makes that clear - it was the entire law struck down, not just the funding. What legal basis allows a school to start one way, change and go back? There's certainly nothing in the charter law for that; maybe there is in some other RCW.
And even they finish the year? Then what?
I'm no lawyer but I don't think finding the funding solves it and the Washington State Charter Schools Association may end up finding that out in court.
One last funny/odd thing - when you come into these phone-in meetings,you can announce yourself. Personally, I think it a polite thing to do but there were many people who were lurkers and did not name themselves.