Legislation preserving public charter schools as an option for Washington students, sponsored by Sen. Steve Litzow, cleared a final hurdle today as the bill becomes law without Gov. Inslee’s signature following passage by the Legislature on March 10. Washington voters approved Initiative 1240 in 2012 creating public charter schools, but their future had been uncertain after the state Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional in September.
“Education inequality is one of the greatest challenges facing Washington students and our state as a whole,” said Litzow, of Mercer Island, who serves as chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. “Charter schools are one of many tools we have to strengthen our overall education system and ensure all children have access to a great education that prepares them to enter and succeed in college and compete for a good job.”
The legislation directs funding to come from the state’s Opportunity Pathways Account, which contains state lottery revenues not restricted to common schools.
“I’m pleased that after thorough review the governor agreed with the bipartisan group of lawmakers who developed this legislation to address the court’s concerns and put forth a solution that complies with our state constitution,” said Litzow.
In September the state Supreme Court declared charter schools unconstitutional and denied a reconsideration request from state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. A bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers, including Litzow, filed a brief with the court raising concerns about the ruling.
The governor had until April 2 to either sign the bill into law or veto the legislation, which becomes law if no action is taken.