Category Archives: What’s New

Supreme Court retains jurisdiction in McCleary; says full funding still not in place

The Supreme Court’s November 15, 2017, Order did three things:

(1) It unanimously rejected the State’s claim that the 2017 legislature satisfied the court orders in the McCleary case. It unanimously rejected the State’s claim that lawmakers cured their ongoing contempt of court. It unanimously rejected the State’s claim that sanctions should be lifted. And it unanimously rejected the State’s claim that the Court should relinquish jurisdiction and terminate the McCleary case.

(2) It unanimously ordered the State to provide the additional $1 billion of salary funding that the State, by its own admission, acknowledged would be required to fully fund the State’s new salary model for the 2018-2019 school year. It unanimously ordered that this $1 billion must be enacted by the end of the legislature’s 2018 regular session (i.e., March 8). And it unanimously warned that if lawmakers fail to do so, the Court will “immediately” address the need to impose stronger sanctions – which, as lawmakers know from prior McCleary case filings, include enforcement options such as suspending all tax exemptions enacted by the legislature in order to pressure lawmakers to comply with the Court’s Order.

(3) It put the State’s new funding formulas on a short leash to let them prove themselves constitutionally adequate in practice. Trusting the legislature’s assurance that it is “reasonably likely” that the State’s prototypical school model formulas will amply fund all 10 components of the State’s basic education program, the Court said: “At this point, the court is willing to allow the State’s program to operate and let experience be the judge of whether it proves adequate.”

Thus, once a school district operates under the current State funding formulas, the McCleary decision’s “paramount duty”, “amply fund” and “all children” requirements will measure if those formulas prove themselves constitutionally adequate in practice. [The November Order’s discussion recapped that the 10 components of the State’s basic education program are: (1) pupil transportation, (2) materials, supplies and operating costs (MSOCs), (3) full-day kindergarten, (4) K-3 class sizes of 17 students per classroom, (5) special education, (6) remediation (Learning Assistance Program/LAP), (7) transitional bilingual education (Transitional Bilingual Instructional Program/TBIP/English Language Learners/ELL), (8) highly capable student instruction, (9) Core 24 (increasing high school graduation requirements from 20 credits of instruction to 24), and (10) compensation sufficient to attract, recruit and retain competent teachers, administrators and staff to implement the above components.]

Watch the Supreme Court hearing on TVW

Attorneys for NEWS and the State of Washington appeared before the State Supreme Court on Oct. 24, 2017. Watch the hearing on TVW.

NEWS to Supreme Court: “The eyes of Washington public school children are upon you.”

NEWS attorney Tom Ahearne prepares for the hearing as members of the Venema and McCleary families look on from the front row.

In a hearing before the Washington State Supreme Court today, NEWS and the State of Washington presented two sharply divergent views of whether or not the State has finally complied with the mandates of McCleary – each side facing tough questions from the Court. NEWS argued the Legislature has failed to appropriate “ample funding” as mandated by the State Constitution for every element of basic education – from teacher salaries to class size reductions to transportation to special education – while the State declared “full implementation, full funding and compliance with Article IX [the ‘paramount duty’ clause].” Watch the hearing on TVW.


Supreme Court sets hearing for October

The Washington State Supreme Court will hear oral arguments from the State and from NEWS at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017, in the Temple of Justice building in Olympia. The State seeks to have the Court’s contempt citation lifted, while NEWS maintains that the State continues to violate the Court’s orders in McCleary. Read the brief NEWS filed in August.


State files post-budget brief with the Supreme Court

The State has filed its required brief with the Washington State Supreme Court, contending the biennial budget adopted by the Legislature at the end of June has met our constitution’s ample funding mandate and the court orders in the McCleary case.” Read the brief NEWS filed in late August. Read the State’s brief.