Fans of Washington charter schools got some good news Thursday when, in a split decision, the state Supreme Court ruled that it is not unconstitutional for charter schools to be funded using the proceeds from lottery tickets sales.
The ruling stems from a 2015 suit, in which the court ruled that charter schools can't be funded using the state's general fund, which funds public schools. In response, the Legislature passed a law funding charter schools through lottery sales in 2016. Thursday's ruling upheld this law.
The news, however, is less good for charter school opponents and teachers' unions, which argued in court that charter schools should not be eligible for lottery funding because they are not subject to voter oversight because they are privately run, don't have elected school boards, and are exempt from many of the requirements of public schools. The court, however, did strike down a provision of the 2016 law that restricted charter school teachers from unionizing across multiple schools.
Charter schools, which were approved by Washington voters in 2012 (after rejecting them three times), are often criticized for funneling money from regular old public schools with none of the oversight of public schools.
Charter school proponents cheered the decision. “Today’s ruling is a victory for the students of Washington state, a win for public education and a big step forward in the fight to close the opportunity gap that persists in our state,” Washington State Association of Charter Schools CEO Patrick D’Amelio said in a statement. “Today’s decision marks an important step forward for Washington.”
The state’s 13th charter school is scheduled to open next fall.