A King County Superior Court judge has ruled Washington’s new charter school act is unconstitutional. Judge Jean Rietschel struck down the core of the Charter School Act by determining that charter schools are not common schools and cannot be funded with state common school funds.

“A charter school cannot be defined as a common school because it is not under the control of the voters of the school district,” Judge Rietschel wrote. The judge also found that, as a result, charter schools cannot receive restricted common school construction funds from the state.  Attorneys are reviewing the decision, and the case likely will be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

The state's charter school system was approved by voters in 2012, with the first of these alternative public schools scheduled to open in fall 2014.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include the League of Women Voters of Washington and the Washington Association of School Administrator; the Washington Education Association, Wayne Au, Ph.D., an educator and education advocate; Pat Braman, a former Mercer Island High School teacher and current Mercer Island School Board member; and parents with children in public schools in Snohomish and Spokane counties.

Paul Lawrence and Jessica Skelton of Pacifica Law Group are the lead plaintiff attorneys in the case