Kids Win: Early Victory as Judge Tosses Baseless Claims, Dismisses Lobbying Organizations from Charter School Lawsuit

Nov 18, 2016 | Blog

Date: Friday, November 18, 2016
Contact: Maggie Meyers at (724) 263-9826

Dismissal Underscores Political Nature of Lawsuit

SEATTLE, Wash. – In a decision released earlier today, King County Superior Court Judge John H. Chun delivered a major blow to the plaintiffs in the latest charter public school lawsuit, recognizing both the state’s motion to dismiss two of plaintiffs’ core arguments from consideration and affirming intervenor claims that several organizational plaintiffs failed to demonstrate standing in their attack on charter school families.

In his decision, Judge Chun ruled that multiple organizational plaintiffs, including El Centro de La Raza, League of Women Voters, Aerospace Machinists Union, Washington Federation of State Employees, Teamsters and several others, did not qualify for standing.

“This ruling underscores the political motivations underlying this suit,” said Tom Franta, CEO, Washington State Charter Schools Association (WA Charters). “This lawsuit is an attempt to intimidate and threaten Washington students and families. Today’s decision is true win not only for them, but for the thousands of families across our state working to bring opportunity to their communities. It’s time to move on and put the needs of students first, not lobbyists.”

Judge Chun also threw out two of plaintiffs’ baseless arguments in the case, dismissing (1) an attempt to tie charter public schools to the state’s underfunding of basic public education, as a separate matter based on speculation, and (2) an attack on last academic year’s operation of charter public schools through the ALE process as moot.

To learn more about the lawsuit and meet the families fighting for their schools, visit: 

This is the second victory for WA families since the lawsuit once again attacking voter-approved charter schools was filed. In August, Judge Chun granted twelve families their motion to intervene in a lawsuit designed to threaten Washington’s successful charter public schools, despite attempts by the plaintiffs to block their participation. The families and schools represent parents, students, and educators throughout Washington focused on ensuring all students have access to an excellent, personalized education and, through quality schools, closing Washington’s persistent equity and opportunity gaps. The families and schools are represented by Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.

The state’s existing charter public schools opened after voters passed a ballot initiative in 2012, authorizing the creation of more high-quality public-school options for hardworking Washington families. When the Washington Supreme Court identified a glitch in the voter-approved charter public school law, a bipartisan group of lawmakers studied, vetted, and in March 2016, passed a bill specifically designed to address the Supreme Court’s concerns. Legal experts from both sides of the aisle, including non-partisan staff attorneys, combed through SB 6194 to ensure it would pass constitutional muster and restore the will of the voters by creating a path for charter public schools’ long-term success.

Washington’s operating charter public schools began their second school year this month, having quickly become a vital part of Washington’s public education system for the students and families they serve. The schools already are making a quantifiable difference in the lives of hundreds of Washington families, particularly in historically under-resourced and underserved communities.

About Washington’s Public Charter Schools
Charter schools are a type of public school, approved and overseen by a state or district authorizer. Like all public schools, they do not charge tuition, they are open to all students, and they are publicly funded. However, charter public schools are held more accountable for showing improved student achievement. In exchange for greater accountability, teachers and principals are given more flexibility to customize their teaching methods and curriculum to improve student learning.

Washington’s charter public schools are helping to close the education equity gap. A majority of charter public school students in Washington are students of color, as compared to 43 percent statewide, and a majority of charter public school students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, as compared to 45 percent statewide.

In some communities, traditional public schools are meeting the needs of local students. But in other communities – particularly communities of color that struggle with poverty – they are not. In Washington, African American, Latino and Native American students are scoring between 15-20 percent lower on state assessments. According to 2015-16 mid-year and end-of-year assessment results, students at Washington’s charter public schools are making impressive gains in reading and math.