Wednesday, January 11, 2017

OSPI To Dismiss Itself From Dorn Lawsuit

Update from the Columbian:

But former superintendent Randy Dorn, who originally filed the lawsuit in July in King County Superior Court, said he plans to continue the legal action as a private citizen.

Read more here:

end of update

From OSPI Communications and Superintendent Reykdal:
On this, my first day as Washington state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, I have directed agency lawyers to take immediate steps to dismiss the Superintendent of Public Instruction from the Dorn vs. Washington lawsuit.
This lawsuit was filed by my predecessor and others under the apparently false presumption that local school levy dollars cannot be used to provide employee compensation. The Court, however, has never held that school districts are prohibited from using local levies for employee compensation. During the 2017 legislative session, it will be critical for the Legislature to both amply fund basic education and clearly define in statute what basic education compensation is and is not.

Just as local school districts can further lower class sizes beyond the state’s prototypical school funding model, districts can supplement compensation beyond the state’s contribution.

By clearly defining basic education compensation in statute, we can avoid future litigation that stems from a presumption that any and all compensation is “basic” education. We have a remarkable opportunity: We can make a historic commitment to our public schools by ensuring that the state adheres to its primary constitutional obligation. Just as important, we also can empower our local communities to recruit and retain educators and support staff as necessary to reflect their unique needs.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget proposal reduces dependence on local school levies, which effectively substantially reduces the differences in total compensation from one district to the next. I urge the Legislature to follow this approach – it respects local collective bargaining and unique district needs while simultaneously reducing the disparity between districts.

Finally, I want to thank former State Superintendent Randy Dorn for his tireless efforts to draw widespread attention to our education funding crisis. He played a critical role in the more than $2 billion in progress that has been made to date.

Under my leadership, however, our state’s lead education agency will not sue the very districts we are committed to supporting.

I encourage the remaining plaintiffs in the lawsuit to withdraw their support. This approach is an unnecessary cost for taxpayers. There are far more productive uses of our collective energy, such as:
  • working to create bipartisan solutions to meet our funding obligation,
  • fulfilling our moral obligation to close persistent opportunity gaps for students and populations that have been historically and systemically denied equal opportunities in our schools, and
  • meeting our economic imperative to graduate ALL students career and college ready – specifically by building clear pathways to graduation via career and technical education programs
Washington state’s bright future is a function of our shared commitment to high quality, amply funded public education. It is not made better by excessive litigation that distracts us from our shared interests. It is time for each and every one of us to move forward and make the sacrifices necessary to support each and every student in reaching graduation.

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