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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Legal Challenge Filed to I-1240

It's on.

From the WEA:

Educators and community groups file legal challenge to new charter school law
A coalition of educators and community groups has filed a legal demand with the Washington Attorney General challenging the constitutionality of Initiative 1240, the state’s new charter school law.

The demand asserts I-1240, the Charter School Act, violates the Washington Constitution by improperly diverting public school funds to private non-profit groups that are not subject to local voter control and impeding the state’s constitutional obligation to fund fully K-12 public education.
The League of Women Voters of Washington, the Washington Education Association and El Centro de la Raza filed the demand with the state attorney general’s office earlier today.

“The Washington Supreme Court has ruled the state is violating its paramount duty to fund our public schools,” said Catherine Ahl of the League. “The Charter School Act drains money from public schools to privately run charter schools that aren’t accountable to local voters — taking away the right of citizens to elect representatives to oversee the spending of their taxes.”
The demand outlines at least seven constitutional problems with the Charter School Act:
  1. It violates the state’s constitutional “paramount duty” to provide for the education of children within its borders. In its 2012 McCleary decision, the Washington Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to fully fund basic educational programs by 2018. The Charter School Act interferes with the state’s progress toward compliance by diverting already insufficient resources away from public school districts.
  2. It unconstitutionally diverts funding that is restricted to use for public common schools to private charter schools that are not subject to local voter control.
  3. It violates the “general and uniform” requirement in the constitution because charter schools are not subject to most of the laws and regulations applicable to public school districts, including many of the common school provisions defining the elements of a basic education.
  4. It amends existing state law in a manner not permitted by the constitution.
  5. It violates the constitutional requirement that the superintendent of public instruction “have supervision over all matters pertaining to public schools.”
  6. Its language relating to the conversion of a public school into a charter school is unconstitutionally vague.
  7. It violates the constitution because it mandates the use of local voter-approved levy funds for a purpose other than the purpose for which the voters approved the levies.
The demand asks the attorney general’s office to address the unconstitutional provisions of the Charter School Act. If the attorney general’s office declines, the coalition will file a complaint in Superior Court. Paul Lawrence of Pacifica Law Group is the lead attorney in the case.
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization. WEA represents nearly 82,000 public school employees. El Centro de la Raza is a Seattle-based group dedicated to social justice.

12 comments:

Dora said...

Finally.

Anonymous said...

Could someone please draw a Venn Diagram illustrating the Burgess fundraiser last night and charter backers?


"Bring It"

suep. said...

Excellent news.

mirmac1 said...

Make sure that Venn diagram includes any district staff in senior position...!!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Stay tuned, there may be more to that fundraiser than meets the eye.

mirmac1 said...

BTW, THANK YOU! El Centro for rethinking your membership in the "Our Schools Coalition" and throwing your support for a truly worthy cause.

Anonymous said...

Careful everyone. This is NOT a legal challenge in the sense most of us would think. It is NOT a lawsuit (yet). Rather, it is the first shot across the bow, and is a formal written request by WA taxpayers represented by counsel, asking "mother may I" to the Attorney General to investigate the constitutionality of the charter law. It is more of a routine "demand letter" used by attorneys in anticipation of litigation. Nothing has been filed yet in the the court system - and nothing may - unless the AG agrees with one or more of the seven constitutional arguments made in the letter. It is an excellent letter. But there is something Charlie mentioned months ago - whether the AG can effectively take on this case when he also may have a duty to represent the voters' will. So for now the ball is in the court of new AG Bob Ferguson and we have to hold our breath to see what response is forthcoming. He may issue a legal ruling that provides ammunition, or deflates it. He may punt and say the AG is unable to help and not comment on the record about the constitutional problems. There is a range of possible responses. And the other side is, as we speak, surely lining up its own legal arguments and might send a letter of its own to the AG. We have to see.

- Experienced WA attorney

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Dora said...

About the Burgess backers. What they want is mayoral control, well, except for maybe one or two clueless board members who attended.

It's all part of the package. With mayoral control over the school district, the school board is hand selected and the mayor basically decides policy. This is how it works in LA, where Broad is really the guy in power behind the scenes and in Chicago where mayoral control started.

With "mayoral control", the people who are really in control are the folks with money who fund the mayor's campaigns. And what they want to see are more charters and to privatize anything else that moves. It's all about profit not about "The Children".

Melissa Westbrook said...

And that Dora, is why we must think about who makes it out of the primary for mayor. Also, we all have to pay attention to the next School Board elections as they will be a battle royale (as we can see coming from LA).

Anonymous said...

http://mynorthwest.com/646/2213655/Any-charter-school-is-one-too-many-for-state-teachers-union

Public School Parent

Morgan said...

What has the PACIFICA LAW GROUP ever done?

Anonymous said...


The Pacifica Law Group is fairly new, just a couple years. It was formed from a breakaway group of experienced attorneys formerly with K&L Gates. Yes, that K&L Gates, the international law firm that represented the disgraced Jack Abramoff and that acquired Preston Gates & Ellis, a longtime Seattle law firm. The Gates in that name is William Gates Sr., Bill Gates's father. The lead attorney for the letter sent by Pacific to the AG is Paul Lawrence, who looks like a good guy. But it is interesting if you read his bio at the website to see who he has represented in the past. Microsoft and Amazon, among other large corporations.

- Sleuther