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King County Superior Court Judge rules on charter schools initiative

King County Superior Court Judge Jean Rietschel today issued a ruling that the state’s 2012 charter schools initiative can continue to be implemented.

The judge upheld the charter schools law, as written, against multiple constitutional arguments, finding that only one limited aspect of the law should be stricken.

In her ruling, Rietschel found it unconstitutional to designate a charter school as a “common school.” Under her ruling, charter schools could be ineligible for certain limited funding sources reserved exclusively for common schools.

Rietschel upheld the initiative, as written, against all other challenges, leaving the vast majority of the law intact.

“As attorney general, it is my job to defend the will of the voters,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said. “The court has held the vast majority of the charter schools initiative constitutional, and the state will continue to implement this law.”

Education Division Chief David Stolier presented the state’s argument.

Background

Initiative 1240, creating a public charter school system, was approved by the voters in the 2012 election.

On July 3, 2013, the League of Women Voters, the Washington Education Association, El Centro de la Raza and several individuals filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court challenging the constitutionality of the initiative. The group asked the court to declare the Charter Schools Act unconstitutional in its entirety and to block any further implementation of the act.

A coalition of charter school supporters, including the League of Education Voters, the Washington State Charter Schools Association, and the initiative sponsors, intervened in support of the act. Another group of stakeholders filed an amicus brief.

Final charter school applications were due on Nov. 22 and the first charter schools are expected to open in 2014.

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