CCSA Statement on Washington State Supreme Court Ruling on Charter Schools

September 9, 2015

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CCSA issued the following statement regarding the Washington State Supreme Court ruling on charter schools.

While not having any legal or practical effect on charter schools in California, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) is deeply disappointed with the Washington State Supreme Court's ruling, issued on Friday, September 4, 2015, which rejected the public charter school law that Washington voters approved in 2012. The decision was based on a century-old precedent and said that public charter schools cannot receive "common school" public funds because they are not overseen by elected boards.

The ruling comes weeks after eight new charter public schools (including respected California charter organizations such as Green Dot and Summit Public Schools) started serving 1,200 students in the state. It is our understanding that the Court's decision did not specify what will happen to the schools that are already open--and the students who attend them. Instead, the State Supreme Court justices sent the case back to the King County Superior Court "for an appropriate order." We encourage Washington officials to do whatever is necessary to ensure that there is no disruption for the students currently enrolled in Washington's charter public schools.

In 1999, the California Court of Appeal held that the California Charter School Act of 1992 (Act) did not violate the State Constitution. (Wilson v. State Bd. of Education (1999) 75 Cal.App.4th 1125.) California courts have consistently enforced the rights of charter school students, parents and entities under the Act. As a result, California charter schools are publicly funded and have grown to more than 1,100 in number across the State serving more than 500,000 public school students. California charter schools are not affected by this ruling.

We hope that Washington continues to push for high-quality options for students and families. The public in Washington just as in California and across the nation, supports charter schools at very high levels especially the flexible, personalized learning environment they offer to students. The over 1,200 students who filled up all eight public charter schools that opened this fall are clearly proof of this demand. It is now up to Washington officials to ensure that this highly sought public school choice supported by voters remains in place for students in the state.