A King County judge ruled Thursday that charter schools in Washington cannot receive school construction funds from the state, but otherwise upheld a charter school law approved by voters last year.
The Washington Education Association, League of Women Voters and other groups filed a lawsuit in July asking the court to declare the charter school law unconstitutional and halt its implementation.
The court considered several challenges to the law, including whether charter schools can be considered “common schools.” A common school is available to all children, free and under the control of voters in the school district.
King County Judge Jean Rietschel said in her ruling that a “charter school cannot be defined as a common school because it is not under the control of the voters of the school district.” Since it is not a common school, she said it does not qualify for certain state money, such construction funds.
Opponents also argued that it was the Legislature’s paramount duty to define basic education, and that duty cannot be delegated to the private organizations that will run the charter schools. Rietschel did not agree with that challenge, saying that there are “sufficient” standards and safeguards in place.
The attorney general’s office, which represented the state in court, said Thursday that charter school operators can move forward with their plans.
“The court has held the vast majority of the charter schools initiative constitutional, and the state will continue to implement this law,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson in a statement.
Voters approved an initiative last year that allows 40 charter schools to open in Washington within the next five years. The state’s first charter schools are expected to open their doors in the fall of 2014.
The Washington Education Association said the case will likely be appealed to the Washington Supreme Court.
Read the judge’s ruling here.