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Washington Supreme Court Strikes Down Charter School Law

September 20, 2015

A 6-3 decision of the Washington State Supreme Court struck down that state's 2012 voter referendum establishing charter schools there. The majority held, under the specific provisions of the Washington State Constitution and state judicial precedents going back more than a century, that common (public) school funding could not be used to support charters. The court determined that a charter school, which is not subject to voter control through an elected school board, is simply not a public school. Charter advocates, backed by the Gates Foundation, are vowing to seek a legislative "fix", though the prospects for that are very uncertain. This out-of-state decision has no direct application to New York law. Still, the court's powerful reaffirmation of local control of education may be useful in arguing for the preservation of local control in New York, in cases like the Tax Cap and under the new receivership law.

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