Press Release: State lawmakers write court in support of charter schools

State lawmakers write court in support of charter schools

OLYMPIA… Ten state legislators from the Washington State Senate and House of Representatives today added support in an effort for the state Supreme Court to reconsider its September ruling striking down public charter schools.

In September the state Attorney General asked the court to reconsider its original ruling. The brief filed today adds a formal response from lawmakers, which raises legal issues and provides a legislative perspective. The bipartisan group includes three members from both the Senate and House majority caucuses and two members from each minority caucus.

The request addresses several concerns with the court’s ruling including specific language from this year’s budget aimed at resolving any confusion with the funding source for charter schools. It also raises concerns about the disproportionate impact the ruling has on minority children from low-income families.

In its ruling the state Supreme Court claimed public charter schools were supported with money constitutionally protected for traditional public schools. However, the Legislature’s 2015-17 operating budget explicitly states that no school levy revenue was used to operate or administer public charter schools.

“Whether or not you voted for charter schools there are significant unintended consequences from the court’s ruling,” said Sen. Joe Fain, an attorney from Auburn, who serves as the Senate Majority Floor Leader and as a member of the Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. “We must work to restore these learning opportunities for children and ensure that other programs like Running Start are equally protected.”

Washington is one of few states failing in its effort to close the gap in academic opportunity between white and Asian students from middle- and higher-income families and children from low-income families and communities of color. Addressing racial disparities was one of the main arguments for passage of Initiative 1240 in 2012.

“Charter schools are helping some of our hardest to serve children and families,” said Rep. Eric Pettigrew of Renton, who serves as the House Majority Caucus Chair. “Providing stability to families and a clear path to success for these students should be one of our highest priorities.”

The ten signers include House Democrats Eric Pettigrew, Judy Clibborn, and Larry Springer; Senate Republicans Joe Fain, Steve Litzow, and John Braun; House Republicans Chad Magendanz, and Norma Smith; and Senate Democrats Steve Hobbs, and Mark Mullet.


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For more information regarding Senator Fain please contact Joe Adamack at 360-786-7519 or

For more information regarding Representative Pettigrew please contact Yoshi Kumara at 360-786-7221 or


Washington State House Republican Communications