Washington News

July 3, 2013

State teachers union, other groups sue to stop charter schools

by Brian M. Rosenthal

A coalition headlined by Washington’s teachers union has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a recently-approved state initiative establishing charter schools, the group announced Wednesday.

The 31-page lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court earlier in the day, seeks to stop the establishment of charter schools.

A state commission established under the initiative is currently laying the groundwork for the schools, which are free and public but independent of school districts and allowed to use different techniques.

The lawsuit argues that the initiative violates the state constitution in seven ways, including that it improperly delegates education duties to private organizations, interferes with progress toward complying with a state Supreme Court order for the state to spend more on education, diverts funds to schools not under local voter control and takes power away from the state superintendent of public instruction.

“The Charter School Act poses a real threat to our public school system in Washington,” said one of the plaintiffs, education advocate Wayne Au, in a news release. “Not only does it divert already deficient state funds from public schools to private organizations, it also exempts those private organizations from many of the standards that are in place to ensure that all children receive an adequate education.”

The lawsuit had been expected. The coalition filed a legal challenge to the state attorney general over the initiative in February.

Initiative 1240 received 50.7 percent support from state voters last November.

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