1,500 Charter Students, Teachers, and Parents Gather in Olympia for Washington State Supreme Court Public Charter School Hearing

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Washington D.C. - Today, the Washington State Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a pivotal case that will decide the fates of 2,400 students who attend the state’s 10 currently operating public charter schools and hundreds more students who are preparing to attend new public charter schools and new grade level openings this fall.

The case, El Centro de la Raza vs. Washington (“El Centro”), has been advanced by opponents who seek to overturn the Washington Charter School Act (the “Act”), a bipartisan law that allows high-performing public charter schools to operate in the state. These schools are tuition-free, open to all students, approved and overseen by public bodies, and designed to serve the most underserved students in the state. Moreover, these schools are publicly accountable, subject to open meetings laws and public records laws, and held to high academic, legal, and fiscal standards. The Act does not permit for-profit charter schools to operate in the state.

In February 2017, the Act was upheld on all counts by the trial court. Sadly, opponents insisted on continuing their fight, appealing their loss to the state’s highest court, where today the Justices heard the case. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the Black Alliance for Educational Options, the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools, and the League of Education Voters, supported by the National Charter School Legal Action Fund, filed a joint amicus brief before the Washington State Supreme Court, highlighting the broad public support for public charter schools and the families they serve in 43 states and the District of Columbia, including Washington State.

Opponents of the state’s public charter schools–namely, lobbyists who oppose charter public school options for students–have brought this litigation in an attempt to close schools and prevent additional charter schools from opening. El Centro defies–and inexplicably strives to deny–thousands of parents who have demanded public charter schools for their children. This suit is nothing more than opponents’ attempt to circumvent lawmakers’ political will and parents’ and students’ fierce commitment to public charter schools. 

National Alliance President and CEO Nina Rees has released the following statement:

"Today’s oral argument before the Washington State Supreme Court marks a critical moment for Washington charter school families and public education in Washington State. The national charter school community stands with the thousands of students and families who are currently benefiting from public charter schools–and the thousands more who stand to benefit in the future from high-quality public school options. Washington’s law is one of the strongest in the nation, and I am confident that it will prevail and ensure that public charter schools are options for generations of Washingtonians to come.”


About Public Charter Schools

Public charter schools are independent, public, and tuition-free schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Since 2010, many research studies have found that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional school peers. For example, one study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that charter schools do a better job teaching low income students, minority students, and students who are still learning English than traditional schools. Separate studies by the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research have found that charter school students are more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college, stay in college and have higher earnings in early adulthood.

About the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector. For more information, please visit www.publiccharters.org.

About the National Charter School Legal Action Fund

The Charter School Legal Action Fund (CSLAF) launched in November 2016 to support select public charter school cases with national impact. Learn more about the CSLAF and its work here.