Friday, September 01, 2017

McCleary: Where We Stand

Editor's Note: I derived this information from many sources but mainly the great Washington Paramount Duty Facebook page.
One: the Legislature says their work is done.

Great links here to info on this bill - EHB 2242 via the Washington State School Directors' Association.  

Great summary from the Washington Policy Council.  Pay attention to the charts on pages 9 and 10.

Interestingly, we actually get a "vote" (via Tim Eyman) on this bill.
These laws will be the subject of separate advisory measures on the general election ballot.

If you recall, these are nonbinding on legislators. They’ll be on the ballot courtesy of a provision in Initiative 960 dreamed up by Tim Eyman, of Mukilteo, and passed by voters in 2007. It says if lawmakers approve a tax increase without putting it to a vote then the electorate gets to offer its opinion after the fact.

Results of an Elway Poll released Tuesday found slight support among voters right now for the property tax increase and other big pieces of the education funding blueprint.
Two: the "moving on now" crowd wants us all to do just that - especially the Washington State Supreme Court -  and for parents and districts to be happy with what they get.  That would include Washington Policy Center, Microsoft, DFER.

Good luck with that.

Three: there has been pushback from many districts.

Moses Lake School District
Longview School District 
Orcas Island  
Tacoma and Olympia

Four: what the plaintiffs' lawyer says in response to the new law (bold mine):
The court should order lawmakers to return to Olympia to provide enough money to cover the required education costs by the start of the next school year, attorney Thomas Ahearne said. Or the court should remove tax exemptions, and generate that money.

Lawmakers made “real and measurable progress” this year toward the the Sept. 1, 2018 goal the court has set for them, Ahearne said in a 63-page brief filed this week.

But it’s the kind of progress previous Legislatures should have made, and this past session should have crossed the finish line, providing all the money necessary to amply fund the actual cost of basic education by next September 1, he argued.

The state maintains in its brief defending lawmakers’ actions that it will be adding $8.3 billion over the next four years. But that’s irrelevant, he contends, because the key point is the state will be adding just $1.45 billion by the 2018 deadline. Some of the money the state is spending comes from a change in the property tax laws, reducing local school district levies and increasing the state levy.
“Taking money and handing it back is not an increase,” Ahearne wrote. Some money isn’t for new programs, but for maintaining current programs as student population grow, and the formula the Legislature uses to determine how much money schools fund doesn’t look at their actual costs for many programs.
Here's the full brief.

Five: the Attorney General now has until September 8th to reply to the plaintiffs' response.

Six: Amicus briefs
Amicus brief of ARC of King Co., ARC of Washington State, Teamchild, Washington Autism Alliance & Advocacy, Open Doors for Multicultural Families, Seattle Special Education PTSA, Bellevue Special Needs PTA, Gary Stobbe, M.D., James Mancini, and State Rep. Gerry Pollet. Law Firm: Johnston-George LLP. Attorney: Katherine George

Washington Paramount Duty, written/filed by Summer Stinson and Kathryn Russell Selk

Civil rights orgs, including: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Chinese Information Service Center, Multicultural Education Rights Alliance, United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, Southeast Seattle Education Coalition, Rainier Beach Action Coalition. Attorney: Harriet Strasberg. 

There was also this group but I don't have a link to their brief.
Washington State Budget and Policy Center, Equity in Education Coalition, Sen. David Frockt, Sen. Jamie Pedersen, Rep. Laurie Jinkins, and Rep. Gerry Pollet. Law Firm: Pacifica Law Group LLP. Attorneys: Paul J. Lawrence and Jamie L. Lisagor  

The Supreme Court DENIED these groups from filing amicus briefs. The Court noted that all these groups and the above three disallowed civil rights groups are members of the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools (NEWS), which is a Plaintiff in the McCleary case.
  • Seattle Public Schools. Law Firm: Perkins Coie. Attorneys: Valerie L. Hughes and Catharine B. DeJulio
  • Tacoma Public Schools. Law Firm: Perkins Coie. Attorneys: Valerie L. Hughes and Catharine B. DeJulio
  • Northshore Public Schools. Law Firm: Perkins Coie. Attorneys: Valerie L. Hughes and Catharine B. DeJulio
  • School Alliance (seven Washington school districts consisting of Bellevue School District No. 405, Everett Public School No. 2, Issaquah School District No. 411, Lake Stevens School District No. 4, Lake Washington School District No. 414, Mercer Island School District No. 400, and Tahoma School District No. 409). Law firm: K&L Gates LLP, Attorneys: Grace T. Yuan, John C. Bjorkman, Gabrielle E. Thompson
Seattle Schools wanted to file a brief but the Court said since they were plaintiffs in the NEWS group that they could not.  Their response (partial):
“We have a moral and ethical duty as educators to sound the alarm when public policy threatens our ability to provide a quality education to our students.
“The public is being told the Legislature solved the state’s education funding crisis. The truth is, they did not.

“After diving into the details of the McCleary solution, we were immediately struck by what we saw. 

We are deeply concerned by the well over $50 million gap in special education funding, the limits on local voter-approved levies and compensation that can’t keep up with housing costs.

“At a minimum, a true solution would ‘do no harm.’ In this case, the McCleary plan exacts harm. 
Interestingly, OSPI declined to file a brief.  From State Superintendent Reykdal's blog:
Article III of our state constitution lists the superintendent of public instruction as a member of the state’s executive department. I firmly believe it is inappropriate for an executive department officer to sue the state, or to be party to a lawsuit against the state, or to engage in court filings that use taxpayer resources and state employee time in litigation pitting one state agency against another. 
Former superintendent, Randy Dorn, did not believe this.  New day, new superintendent.

Contempt of court sanctions as of August 30, 2017 - $74.7M. 

Lawmakers' expenses for the special sessions to get this done - $445,000.

After the Attorney General files his reply to the plaintiffs' response to the bill, I believe it's just a waiting game until the Supreme Court makes its decision.

But is it over?  I would find it hard to believe the Court will fully sign off on this bill, given its details and its rushed nature.  


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this fabulous summary, Melissa! Here's the link to the brief for the amicus brief from the Washington State Budget and Policy Center, Equity in Education Coalition, Sen. Jamie Pedersen, Rep. Laurie Jinkins, and Rep. Gerry Pollet.


Summer Stinson

Anonymous said...

Don't we also have Tim Eyman to thank for the 1% revenue cap that strangled schools & other services? At this point, all his (bad) initiatives run together in my memory.


Anonymous said...

CT, we actually have the state legislature to thank for that. The WA Supreme Court struck down Eyman's 1% property tax increase initiative. But Frank Chopp and Christine Gregoire put it back in place through legislative action in 2007, afraid that if they didn't do so, they'd lose seats in the 2008 election.

Just think about that for a moment.

Genius political strategists, obviously.


Ghost Mom said...

Anyone know what the odds are that the schools will be shut down as unconstitutional?

Watching said...

Kudos to Superintendent Reykdal. He understands that the state legislature has not provided sufficient funding to meet the needs of special education students. He plans on allowing school districts to use levy dollars to fund special education costs. In doing so, he has stood with special education students and against the Washington state legislature.

McCleary Bad. said...

Isn't special education part of "basic education"? Doesn't McCleary intrerpret and require the state to fund basic education and prevent districts from using local levy dollars for such things?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ghost Mom, given the timidness of the WA Supreme Court, I'd say near zero. What I think may happen is that they may split the baby and say well, they got some done but since they did not do it all, then we order you to throw out all business tax breaks until it's done.

That's my prediction but I am generally not good in tht area.

Well, yeah, Watching but I do find it odd that he didn't file a brief.

Watching said...

I'm ok with the Superintendent of Public Instruction not filing an amicus brief. I'm not confident that a Supreme Court ruling is the best mechanism to assure local school districts are met.

We certainly saw the manner in the McCleary lawsuit impacted our education system. There is plenty to be unhappy about. We will see what comes next.....

Watching said...

Clarification: I'm not confident that a Supreme Court ruling is the best mechanism to assure the needs of local school districts are met.

It seems to me that it would be enormously difficult to overturn a Supreme Court ruling.

Anonymous said...

WA state special education legal requirements are very similar if not a copy of the IDEA. Districts can't claim poor as an excuse for not following state law. If a district violates a students civil rights then that family can sue and receive general damages plus punitive damages. The IDEA doesn't provided for punitive damages.

Civil rights violations are one of only three violations of law that allow for punitive damages in WA state. Most districts will fold and settle civil rights law suits due to the risk of punitive damages.

SPED Parent