Gregoire, McKenna and two other former Attorneys General challenge state Supreme Court ruling on charters

For Immediate Release | October 28, 2015

Four Former AG’s File Brief Urging Court to Reconsider Ruling That Threatens to Close Public Schools, Could Have Broad Implications Across Multiple State Programs

AG’s: “Reconsideration is appropriate”

Seattle – A bipartisan coalition of former Washington Attorneys General have joined in urging the Washington State Supreme Court to reconsider the September ruling that invalidated the state’s charter school system. The ruling threatens to close nine public schools, affecting more than 1,200 current students and their families. Attorneys General Slade Gorton, Kenneth Eikenberry, Christine Gregoire, and Robert McKenna submitted an amicus, or ‘friend of the court,’ brief today, asserting that the court was wrong in its sweeping decision, noting that “[the] Majority opinion raises the specter of serious unintended consequences” to other public school programs in addition to the state’s public charter schools.

Read the full brief, here.

The brief supports motions for reconsideration already submitted by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the Washington State Charter Schools Association (WA Charters), and comes on the heels of Monday’s amicus brief submitted by five Democrat and five Republican legislators that also calls for the Court to reconsider.

“We are encouraged to see state leaders from both sides of the aisle step forward and do the right thing. What’s clear is that Court erred in its ruling,” said WA Charters CEO Tom Franta. “The reality is that the ruling was devastating – more than 1,200 kids face losing their local public schools because the court went too far in overturning the will of the voters. Every student deserves access to a quality public education, and the Court’s ruling seeks to deny more 1200 kids—and the many, many more who are on waitlists for innovative public schools around the state—of that right.”

Among the key arguments presented in the brief:

  • The ruling presents no logical way to limit the Court’s decision to apply only to charter schools. The former Attorneys General are concerned that the Majority opinion’s rationale may be used to disrupt many facets of the state’s educational system that have grown up outside the common school model.
  • The ruling thus has potentially sweeping implications that could affect programs ranging from tribal compact schools to the University of Washington’s Highly Capable program and beyond.
  • The former Attorneys General are also concerned that the Majority’s decision will have serious implications beyond the education field, risking programs such as children and family services, mental health, developmental disabilities, and aging and adult services.