As Lobbyists Try to Rush El Centro vs. Washington Appeal, a Parent and Student Speak Up

Shirline Wilson and her son, Miles, File a Declaration in El Centro Case Reminding Court What’s Really Best for Kids

Shirline Wilson is a mom like any other. Protective and loving, she only wants what is best for her child, which is why today/Friday she filed a declaration with her son, Miles, in opposition to a lobbying group’s tactics in the anti-charter public schools lawsuit, El Centro de la Raza v. Washington. The declaration comes in response to plaintiffs’ request for a direct review of the case by Washington’s Supreme Court. The plaintiffs seek to overturn the Superior Court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of Washington’s charter school law, in hopes of shutting down the state’s charter public schools like the one Miles attends.

In their declaration, Shirline and Miles remind the Supreme Court that a rushed ruling on the future of charter public schools would be detrimental to charter public school families and children. Shirline states, “Since Miles and his classmates are at risk of losing the opportunity to continue attending Rainier Prep, should the Superior Court’s ruling be reversed on appeal, then at least for Miles and me, we hope the appellate courts will take the time to get their decision right, not just get the decision done right now.”

Shirline and Miles are in good company. Both the Washington State Charter Schools Association and the State of Washington — which is defending the charter school law —opposed the plaintiffs’ request for the case to be taken under direct review by the state Supreme Court, rather than follow the normal course and be heard by the Court of Appeals, as most appeals are.

After charter public schools won the support of our state’s voters and legislators, lobbying organizations filed a lawsuit late last year attacking the constitutionality of Washington’s new charter school law, which has received national recognition as one of the strongest charter sector laws in the country. Feigning concern for kids, plaintiffs did their best to convince Judge John H. Chun in King County Superior Court that charter public schools are unlawful. Judge Chun didn’t buy it. He upheld the constitutionality of charter public schools on all counts and delivered yet another win for the Washington’s growing charter sector.

But the lobbying organization plaintiffs decided to continue waging a political war in the courtroom, electing to appeal El Centro v. Washington despite losing on every claim they brought in Superior Court. These organizations hope the state Supreme Court will hear the appeal directly, bypassing a three-judge panel on the Court of Appeals, and they are requesting the fastest possible timeline for Supreme Court review. Plaintiffs want a rushed decision – not because it would be good for students, but because it would be good for their political scoreboard.

Families like Shirline and Miles’ know better. With a thorough and thoughtful appellate review, they remain confident that any future ruling on charter public schools will affirm what voters, legislators and the courts have been telling us all along — Washington’s charter public schools are here to stay.

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